we are about two blocks south of the state capital. the booktv tent is here as well. now we will go inside to hear from robert morgan about westward expansion. >> [inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations] >> hello. welcome. i'm paul from universe of the mixer, executive director of western writers of america. and today i'll be talking with robert morgan, distinguished author.
and robert of course is known widely for his poetry and his fiction. and he is also now known widely as a historian. he's come over into that world as well. he's best known probably for his novel, gap creek, which was a selection of the oprah book club. and robert tells me he's a warm personal friend of oprah. he certainly loves her a lot now especially after excess of cabin creek which was picked up by the oprah book club to shows her discernment of course because the author who is responsible for the quality of its work. he entered the history world when he did his biography of daniel boone which was a national bestseller, went through five printings and cloth, seven more and still going in paper published by algonquian books.
his current book and one will be discussing today is called "lions of the west," which is a history of the period that we know as manifest destiny. the great period of expansion where america fulfill its continent of destiny and became the nation that we know today. but, of course, at a price that makes some people a little and easy when they think about how we achieved that greatness. so, we are just going to have a conversation for about 30 minutes and then we will open it up and have you folks ask questions, if you would like to. first, we want to thank the texas book festival for having us here. we want to thank all the volunteers and all the people who work so hard to make this a premier event in the united states, and a premier event for people who love books and work in the world of books. my first question is, is one that always intrigues me.
i love dedications to books. your book is dedicated to mrs. elizabeth rogers who taught you american history. what's the back story? >> she was my 11th grade history teacher. she was a wonderful teacher. she is still a life. she is 92, still living in western north carolina, but she grew up in upstate new york where i live now. interesting. she came south to live and i moved up there, almost exactly where she grew up. but she was one of the people who really inspired me to love history, to read history, to think about it. and it seemed appropriate when i publish this book did dedicate it to her. >> i should've mentioned that robert teaches at cornell. he has become a college professor but evidently that hasn't ruined him as a writer. it's always dangerous.
your previous book was on daniel boone, a great favorite of mine, and the book is wonderful. you don't include daniel boone and lines of the west but, of course, you've all ready done, but his spirit is all through "lions of the west," and references are made to him. i've often thought of daniel boone as a founding father keyes a founding father of the american west. and while washington and jefferson and frankel of the founding fathers of our eastern democracy, it's daniel boone who takes it west of the mountains and opens up everything that you write about in "lions of the west." would you agree with that? >> as it turns out, yes, boone had enormous influence on the future of the country because of that. he opened up kentucky. and as i say in the book, kentucky was the key, once you why a settlement in kentucky, it's inevitable you have settlements in ohio, indiana, and for the west. so he is indeed the father of
the country, this country expanding to the west that jefferson had dreamed of it and oddly enough, boone new jefferson because boone was in the virginia legislature when jefferson was the governor. boom was the courier between jefferson and george rogers clark when jefferson was begging for fossils from the west, any sort of plants, animals, curiosities, anything that would inform jefferson about what was there across the mountains. he wanted to know everything about that world, and he wanted to possess it. [inaudible] >> is this better? thank you. indeed, one of the parts in your book i just absolutely loved was the discussion of jefferson. constantly writing george rogers
clark, you know, who is up to his neck in chinese and british, you know, fighting tooth and nail to hold onto the old northwest. and it's like clark, you've got to give me some mastodon bones. i've heard they're out there on the kentucky river. and you just, but pack them really carefully. i just can't imagine that. these people are hanging on by the fingernails and jefferson once those bones. >> oh, the world is changing. the last year, to use of the american revolution, and he's thinking about those health and bones, those mammoth bones. he wants to know what animals are out there, what is the body of the west. he wants to know about the rivers, he wants to know about the commercial potential. while almost almost all the other founding fathers i think at the college on the eastern seaboard, jefferson is already dreaming of his empire for liberty that will go all the way
maybe to the mississippi, maybe up the missouri, even to those great harbors on the pacific, san diego, monterey and san francisco. he's dreaming of the kind of huge diverse country that would actually come into being, too many of these contenders are thinking primary of a smaller english country there on the atlantic coast. >> i think that's my favorite jefferson quote, it's jefferson like lincoln, pretty tough to pick your favorite quote. but an empire for liberty, the way he viewed the west and he talked about it. when he talked that way he meant that the idea of liberties was going to need space to grow. and he knew that millions and millions of people would be coming to enjoy the fruits of liberty and you want to provide them with the space to enjoy it. and also to proselytize it and
spread it all around the world. there's a reason he is on mount rushmore. and i just they can empire for liberty says it all. and he's right. at this critical time in history he really has vision. >> he has the vision of the future that would come into being. this book, researching this book was a bit of an education for me. i thought i knew things about jefferson, but reading his letters, reading about him, i found all kinds of interesting facts. i did know before. i did know he was the tallest of the founding fathers. he was at least an inch taller than washington. he perhaps was 63 4, and some historians have said he stood tall on the heights of monticello with his head in the clouds. and that was true although at times, although james madison had a marvelous ability to bring him back to reality. it's interesting to read the
correspondence. jettisoned the great dreamer, slight imagination about this great empire of the liberty, madison, the great legal thinker. it was a wonderful relation between them. and i think they encouraged each other. jefferson, great legal mind also, madison probably the greatest legal mind. jefferson was a welshman. he loved singing. he played the fiddle at monticello. and the inspiration for this book, following the blue book, was to write about expansion to the west after boone, after the settlement of kentucky. my publisher invited me down to new york to talk about a future book. we talked about a biography of crockett, a biography of carson, sam houston. we decided there's been a lot of those that wasn't may be the perfect idea. and i said to my publisher and my editor, you know, the
founding father who was most concerned about expanding the country west, learning about it, learning about the mountains, the rivers, the indians, the indian customs, languages, was jefferson. and a man who acquired the west, guadalupe in mexico city, 1847-48 was jefferson's grandson in law. and my publisher said, oh, it's all in the family. so we decided on a book with that beginning, and then to do, length biographies of jackson houston, crockett, james k. polk, winfield scott, kit carson and nicholas interests. as the story unfolds and i decided to end with the nemesis of these people, the person who
oppose most vigorously the expansion into the southwest, john quincy adams, who was not against expansion. he just didn't want to expand slavery into the southwest. he wanted to take all of canada up to 5440. that was a very interesting part of the story, too. >> all of your characters are very inquisitive which i think is an american trait. and since jefferson place his hands upon it, i guess it's all right. but certainly other people claim all of his territory that your heroes are moving into, and there are consequences for the actions that are taken, consequences of course that we live with today. you're very familiar with here in texas. certainly we are in new mexico. but it's all set in motion during this period of so-called manifest destiny.
>> i began this war with a jefferson wanted to george rogers clark in 1781, then continue it with his commission to andrea michaud, 1793, french botanist asking him to explore the mississippi valley, and maybe the missouri and even what is beyond that. nobody knew quite what was beyond that. they knew it was spanish territory. and then, of course, jefferson's quest for the west culminates with purchase of louisiana, 1803, and a strict letter of commission to meriwether lewis june 20, 1803, telling him what he wants to know about the west which is basically everything. i did not know to start this project that the maximum government or the spanish, and mexico sent an army of to cut off lewis and clark, to not let them get to the west. and it was things like that that
persuaded me to do this study i had to study mexican history and tell something about the mexican side of the story, because i came to see it was a part of our story. so i had the pleasure of spending about a year reading mexican historians and mexican history to tell this story. and i'm awfully glad i did because i learned a lot i did not know about the republic south of the border, and a very complicated relationship between the united states and the republic of mexico. >> the intellectual here of the book is thomas jefferson, but the one who was stabbed in a two fisted way in which america stops across the continent and gave us the blessings of liberty and economic growth that we have now was and to jackson. and it's imminent to me that you're not quite as fond of
jackson as you are of jefferson. you refer to him as the bully in the same of westward expansion, sort of the embodiment of the american spirit, both its power and its roughness. >> well, i actually do admire jackson quite a bit. he's one of our greatest leaders, one of our greatest military heroes and was one of our greatest presidents, but he's a complicated man. and interviewer said, the subtitle of your book is "heroes and villains of the westward expansion." which are the heroes and which are the villains? and i said all of them. they are all heroes in some ways and most of them are built. not a johnny appleseed. he's the exception. he is the same, pure and simple. but jackson is a perfect example of somebody who is both a saint and a bully, depending on the situation. i say jackson to some extent had
a bad wrist and sometime. as an indian killer and a person renewed the cherokees and others. he did those things. he believed it was the only way to prevent their extermination in peace. and i believe he really did believe that. but it is also true he wanted their land for white settlement. and he could be brutal. he could be a bully. he could be violent. he thought many duels. but to the people who knew him, he was a saintly person. he was very protective of people, and in some ways he is almost the arc upon clock of american of that. nicholas tressed said andrew jackson have more of a woman in his nature and any man he had ever met, that he was very, very kind, sympathetic, activity people.
he was bighearted. he was generous. he did not hate indians. he like indians. he adopted to indians. as his sons to raise as his sons. but he would not let indian nation stand in the way of white settlement and the westward expansion. now, that's the great paradox about andrew jackson. if he liked you, nobody could be kinder. if you stood in his way on something, you are in deep trouble. intime may be the most popular president we've ever had, and perhaps even the most popular military leader after washington. he had enormous prestige in his lifetime. that's how crockett got in trouble. he started opposing the jacksonians and it cost him his seat in congress and his life at the alamo basically. crockett was at the alamo as opposed to being further east, because houston was a protége of
andrew jackson, and the political rivalry from the state of folic crockett and houston here to texas. but i feel divided with great admiration, and, obviously, some great reservation about figures like andrew jackson. >> certainly jackson was i believe our last president to personally shoot other people in duels. i mean, which i think in political discourse and debate would probably make you cause when you argued with him when you knew this back story on old hickory. well, if jackson of course is kind of the saintly bully, the person who is a saint is john chapman. i very much enjoyed your chapter on johnny appleseed was sort of a disney character i think in our minds, a character of folklore. is there really was a real john shadegg. he really did bring apple to the west. i love the way, you're a poet of
course, and a novelist, and i love the way you talk about the apple and its metaphorical power and those the real power of johnny appleseed. >> and for bringing civilization to north america. i had to write about john chapman because most people think he was a creation of all -- walt disney are kind of a cartoon figure. a very real person, john chapman was born in massachusetts in 1774. his father was a minuteman in the revolution, served with washington at long island. the family grew orchard. going all the way back to england. he went into the western force in pennsylvania as a young man and continued across the ohio into ohio, and begin to plant apple trees with seeds. now, even then those orchard us
grafted trees. if you planted siege of a one in six chance of getting a true apple. that is, you get all kinds of hydrogen things. at the house okay for the frontier because he was playing them for the the people following them. they preferred apple brandy to moonshine in those days. suzette real popular figure. he became very rich in land, though we lived like a popper. and this is a being that many people do not know about john chapman. the second half of his life was spent not only planting apple trees and herbs, and exchanging those with the settlers, but preaching mysticism and distributing tracts of swedenborg's writing. he was a visionary. he would talk to settlers about
angels, talking to angels, about how the spiritual world and the heaven was here, if you could just see it. the indians thought he was a holy fool, and i think a lot of the settlers did. i think he's the kind of american that we see in a row and emerson and emily dickinson later. somebody living in harmony with nature sees nature, nature is the language of the soul. nature is the language of god. you read nature denote the design world. and i just could not resist writing about john chapman in this book spent another natural man from the same period is of course someone who was warm to the hearts of all taxes, and that is davy crockett. you see chapman as the saint of the westward expansion, but you see crockett as the martyr of the westward expansion but i'm of course, i can barely get past
big indicator. chapman was a tinpot on his head. crockett was a dead animal on his head. i don't know what this is about martyrs and saints, that crockett certainly is a fabulous character for what you are doing for the idea of westward expansion. >> well, crockett with a coonskin cap when he was campaigning. when he was appearing as the persona of davy crockett that he had created. i understand that most fancy dress like everybody else. it again his costume. they said he was wearing it when he left memphis coming to texas. but i found crockett a martyr almost from the beginning. if you read his autobiography and his stories, it's a story of failed your. and one of the ways he won votes for people with not only through his humor, he was a great comedian, humorist, he wrote the play that gave my book the
title, "lions of the west," about colonel name water -- half alligator and have force. the beginning of that kind of frontier humor. but if you read his autobiography from the very beginning it's about his failures, his sufferings, all the difficulty he had. it's as though he's almost creating the persona of the martyr. and, of course, the greatest thing he ever did was to die at the alamo, because that brought the sympathy of the world to texas' independence. that story of the mexicans killing all those people and telling crockett and the others, really changed the attitude of the world toward texas' independence spent but it's especially crockett and it's the idea of this living symbol of western liberty and freedom.
i mean, the struggles for the poor and the disenfranchisement and the dispossessed in defense of the indians. and then for him to die at the hands of this megalomaniac dictator, just the worst sort out, it there's a built in the story, although you do say some nice things about and anna, but still he is really one bad character. crockett certainly, certainly then by his death sets in motion everything that happens afterward i thing. spinning up silly. the death of crockett and a great victory changed the course of history. not only american history but world history really. leading up to the mexican war which change the position of the united states on the world stage and led to the acquisition of california and modern american as we know it. santa anna is a megalomaniac. he probably was insane, at least at times. but he had such charm that after
he was thrown out of office he was reelected president of mexico 10 more times. i mean, can you think of anybody like antonio lopez santa anna? i can. he could persuade anybody of anything. interviewed by the great diplomat after he lost the battle. of course, in houston showed what a great statesman he had become by protecting him, keeping them alive. this is one of my favorite stories to watch sam houston grow as a leader from a kind of bully and to do list and a drunk to the great leader of the texas army, and then the state of texas. but he sent santa anna up to washington. he was interviewed, and he said,
mexico is not ready for democracy. it will not be ready for democracy for 100 years. but there's no reason that an authoritarian government can't do much to establish the welfare, prosperity and liberty of a country. he could talk his way out of anything. he was really a strong leader. i don't think we have anyone quite like him certainly in north america. >> the man who fills the dream of jefferson and jackson, and brings someone who is our most underrated president and her most successful president. i always feel that james k. polk makes the american people an easy. he does all the dirty work for us that has made everything possible for us. yet we don't, you know, we don't erect monuments to.
we can barely put them on the stand. it just makes us uncomfortable. and he suffered spent there are monuments to him in nashville. a few years ago and i was at the rockefeller study center in bellagio, italy, talking to german historians. and one of them said you americans know nothing about your history. you don't realize your greatest president is james k. polk. and i said really? and he said oh, yeah, he took you to the symphony. poke is unique in american history. the only president who did everything he promised to do. he said i will never run again, one term. i will in the high tariff. i will establish a stable banking system. i will acquire oregon, and i will acquire california. and by the time he stepped down he had done all those things.
houston said polk is a victim of the use of water as a beverage. he was a workaholic. he worked around the clock. he died a few months after leaving office, but he changed this nation significantly. spent if only polk had met johnny appleseed he could have got some applejack and been a little easier to deal with. you have a wonderful concept in your book, before we open up for questions come and we've got to mention kit carson of course and winfield scott as well but especially kit carson. agenda would've a context in your book about how the westward expansion, while the powerful men and set some forces, political and diplomatic, in motion it really was a people's movement and it was only possible for pope in houston and jackson and crockett, then the
military leaders who came after to achieve what they did because the people have occupied the west ahead of the government, and in the government had to follow them. this is, seems to essentially america, the people lead. >> if the thousand, tens of thousands of unnamed people who came to kentucky, tennessee, texas, oregon, california, who made it possible. we write about the great leaders, but the leaders primarily followed the masses of people going to the free land, going where they thought their futures were best. when it comes to carson, i did the most outrageous thing when i was writing about carson. i compared him to thomas jefferson. and i compared him as scientists and essentially. jefferson wanted to know everything about the west. he wanted to know the geography,
the indians, the religion of the indians, their marriage customs. he wanted to know the languages. he wanted to know the rivers. he wanted to know the soil, the climate. kit carson was illiterate, but he learned all those things and he had a photographic mind. he could remember every place he had ever seen. he knew many indian languages. he knew canadian french, he knew spanish. he was fluent in those languages. and my favorite understatement in american history is from 1842, fremont is going up the missouri river in a steamboat to mount the oregon trail and he meets kit carson and he says, i need a guide to take me to the rocky mountains. and carson, who was a very humble man, not at all pretentious, said i spent some time in amounts. i think i can take you where ever you want to go. they are was born the great partnership, the pathfinder with a real pathfinder is kit carson and thomas broken hand fitzpatrick.
those are the people who took fremont into the rockies and into the sierras. >> carson is very much the sort, the physical instrument that finally fulfills jeffersons empire for liberty, is in the? >> absolutely. .. >> i mean, really. >> it's a small world. [laughter] >> yes, it was a small world. wave got to -- we've got to mention nicholas tryst who's really a forgotten character from history. i've always been upset with him
for not taking baja. if you're going to steal half of somebody's country, don't give up any beachfront property. [laughter] you're doing it anyway, take everything that's good. but nevertheless, and i wanted canada too, i still do. they're very nice up there. [laughter] but tryst is sort of bemoaned in history. he's condemned in the history because he didn't get enough, and yet he's a great peacemaker, and he makes a peace and be gets that war over with brilliantly. >> he's one of our greatest diplomats, he's almost unknown to americans. he was the grandson inform -- grandson-in-law to thomas jefferson. he was sent by polk and buchanan down to new jersey to negotiate a peace sort of behind the back of winfield scott. this is a very strange story, how he was supposed to negotiate a peace without the great general cooperating. but unbelievably, miraculously
he brought it off. he was fluent in spanish, the mexicans liked him a great deal, and eventually -- it is a complicated story -- he got them to sign the treaty at the virgin of guadalupe in 1848 ceding everything west of texas; new jersey, california, nevada, utah, half of colorado and a chunk of wyoming for $15 million. now, that is a real estate deal. it helps if you have wynnfield scott occupying -- winfield scott occupying mexico city nearby. but he did this after he was fired by james k. polk who thought he had become a whig and a friend of whitfield scott. he did it as a private citizen. but it was such a great treaty that they ratified it anyway. he lived the rest of his life in
poverty and obscurity. i found him a truly fascinating man. >> it says everything about the eerd. and the senate of the time, you think our politicians are bad today, boy, back in the day they almost didn't ratify the treaty because they didn't think they needed to pay $15 million to anybody for that territory because they had stole it fair and square. if you have any questions, why don't you come up and line up now. i'll ask mr. morgan a final question about polk is the grand schemer. he really is remarkable the way he sort of tricked people into, um, into war. >> i call him a poker or player. he really >> after questions we will, we will exit immediately, and we will be down in the book-signing tent where you can talk more to robert morgan about his book, "lions of the west." yes, ma'am. >> i have some rapidfire questions. what is the cut-off date for your coverage of "lions of the west"? is it 1850, 1860? who would you consider the most
obscure lion of the west? is there someone you wanted to include but your editor would not allow? did you consider captains in terms of oceanic development? and lastly -- oh, is there any lioness of the west? [laughter] >> i am very glad you asked that question. because i wrote three chapters, one on -- [inaudible] one on narcissa whitman, the missionary who was murdered by indians in oregon, and one on susan mcgothan who as a bride came down the santa fe trial. i really got into research on them thinking of lionesses of the west. my publisher said the book is too big, and we simply cannot include those. and what could i say? that -- they cut them out. yeah. at the end, and i'm threatening to write another book called lionesses of the west.
[applause] >> well, there you go, you've got your audience ready. those pesky publishers, they're always doing that. >> uh-huh. >> yes, sir. >> you mentioned manifest destiny, and i just would maybe ask you to expound a bit on that. it seems to me that, that that is an uncomfortable thing for americans today to deal with. the, you know, the religious underpinnings of that, the, i guess just the audacious entitlement, um, that really, it seems to me s a foundation of our country. at least its geographic shape and breadth. and if you could just, you know, go into that a little bit and expound on that. thank you. >> with well, you're absolutely right, it is a, it is a very complicated and vexing story. as i say right at the very
beginning, there are heros and there are villains. and i think it's the job of a historian to try to see things as they were seen at the time as well as the way, in the way that we view them. and to tell people, our contemporaries, our young people, what this history was all about. i have a page where i talk about the hunger, the greed, the need that poor whites had at the end of the 18th century who had never owned anything, that never had been allowed to hunt, they had never had firearms, they came as indentured servants. they had been kicked out of scotland, they'd been kicked out of ireland, out of wales, and suddenly here was this vast continent of forest, endless game, endless furs, and it was there. only thing standing in their way was indians.
and one of the ways they solved this problem was living with the indians, intermarrying with them, trading with them, fighting with them, and to know this story you have to know their story and the story of the indians and the way these two people came, in many ways, to mirror each other, learn from each other, kill each other at times. but it's a double, triple story. it's, it's full of pain, it's shameful at times, and at other times it is wonderful. people achieving this new democratic country. you've got to see it, the whole elephant, i say. you can't just look at one piece of it. and it's important to understand who we are, to know this many be-layered -- many-layered and complicated story. most of my students know so little of american history. they don't know when the mexican war was. they don't know what the mexican
war was about. and it's the job of historians and teachers to bring this alive for a contemporary audience. >> yes, ma'am. >> sorry. oh, okay. um, well, i guess my question -- it's not really a question so much as i wonder, the reason i was studying history and people who lived during that time, i just wonder what it was that was so inspiring and so, that drove them to do all thisment i feel like we've lost something, and i don't know -- obviously, we can't live in the world the same way that they did, but what can we do now, and how can we live our lives that recaptures that sense of destiny and possibility
and, just -- obviously, we could get specific. there's -- [inaudible] but what do we do now? >> that's a great question, yeah. >> i believe that the great interest in the founding fathers in the revolutionary war period and now this period of the war of 1812 and after comes partly from if our sense of confusion at the moment. i believe that we americans really wonder what we are up to, what is the country about. and we go back to these roots, to this story to try to reconnect and figure out what was best about the country and what was worst. what is it all about? what were the ideas? what were the ideals of jefferson? what was it that jefferson and hamilton cared so much about that they were practically getting in fistfights at cabinet meetings in washington? what did winfield who the care so much about? the great general who conquered mexico was against the mexican war. that's the kind of paradoxes you
have. it's like robert e. lee disapugh pooed of slavery, and he was the great defender of it. history was made up of these paradoxes, and to understand how we got where we are now, we have to know something about these contradictory events and these very complex people. and i think that will help us move forward to know that. >> to come back from the sublime to the more narrow since we have a minute, i'll ask a question. of course, i spend my life just brooding over how exactlyday i have correct died -- davy crockett died, and i notice that in your book you, of course, cite bill droneman's book and his questioning of the diary which i believe is gospel. but nevertheless, you sort of dodge the issue, i think, and i think beautifully, by saying that there is a greater meaning to his death. and it really kind of relates to the question you just answered about what correct meant to --
crockett meant to texas and the rest of the country, if shot the world. -- if not the world. >> yeah. my opinion is we will never know exactly how david crockett died at the alamo, whether he was butchered with swords at the order of santana as the diary says. i don't know. so many scholars have suggested those, those entries in the diary were put in later, it was interpreted later. i really don't know the answer to that. but i don't think it makes that much difference because his importance is as a figure who died for the cause of liberty, not just in texas, but really for the country. for the future. and that's why we remember him. he was also a very funny man and a great bear hunter and much
better educated than he pretended to be. it was a part of his, his persona, you know, to come across as this fellow who hardly could read and write. he was a very smart man, in my opinion. he was a victim of the whigs. they took him into be politics -- into politics out of his depth to some extent. but i see these people including houston as really major figures. i think sam houston is one of the greatest americans, and part of the greatness of his story is to watch his growth as a human being and as a military leader and as a statesman throughout his life. remember, his opposition to secession and then texas, he was thrown out of the governorship. he said, you will lose. was he right? [laughter] he was a very smart guy. >> the idea of manifest destiny, the very idea that jefferson triumphed, crockett died for,
polk made a reality really goes back, i think, to the puritan fathers and to the very idea of this city up on a hill. and it's always been interesting to me as a scholar in the late 20th century and now the 21st century to see how it's so roundly condemned by a population that has merrily gone forth throughout the 20th century and continue to this very day in the 21st to continue exactly that policy. i mean, there is a very clear idea of american exceptionalism. it comes across in your week, and it comes across, i think, in the rhetoric of our political and social discourse, especially in election years. >> and yet you have to feel sorry for mexico losing the war, losing half their territory, and the very month -- january -- 1848 nicholas tryst is putting the final touches on the treaty of guadalupe, a foreman upon the american river where sacramento
is now looks into a mill race, picks up some shiny pebbles, goes back to the bunk house and says, boys, i think i've found a gold mine. perhaps the greatest discovery of gold in history, had been there under the nose of the mexicans and the spanish and the indians for all those years. >> and the rest, as they say, is history. [laughter] robert morgan will be signing books -- [applause] [inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations]
>> and you been listening to robert morgan talking about some of the characters in america's westward expansion. coming up next is a panel in about 15 minutes on mexican drug cartels. we'll bring that to you live. but we're here in austin on congress avenue, and we're pleased to be joined by one of america's best known historians, doug brinkley, whose most recent book is called "the quiet world: saving alaska's wilderness kingdom." doug brinkley, you've written about t.r., you've written about james forestall, you've written about katrina, jimmy carter, why alaska? >> i'm, right now i'm writing the whole history of the u.s. conservation movement, and my first volume was called the wilderness warrior. this is the second installment, and can it's the whole campaign. it begins in 1879 with john mover, co-founder of the sierra club, going up and seeing those
incredible glaciers up the inside passage of alaska and writing about it and how a whole group of what i call, really, wilderness lawyers have worked to safe wild alaska including theodore roosevelt and people like walt disney, william o. douglas, on and on. so i'm now working on "silent spring revolution." in the 1960s. this is not just a history book. i end it in 1960 when eisenhower saved the arctic refuge, anwr that you hear about in the news all the time. >> well, this really is a story about personalities, and let's talk about some of them. let's begin with president teddy roosevelt. his involvement in alaska. >> well, t.r. saved the whole grid of modern alaska. today we have an alaska marry time national wildlife area, the aleutian change -- chain.
he stopped the timbering and created on the gas national forest, these incredible resources and places like the yukon delta bird reserve. and t.r. created it with federal, um, federal orders, executive orders. roosevelt saw that democracy had topsy anonymous with wilderness. make no mistake about it, alaska is our incredible wilderness, and it's a wonderland. america without the alaskan wilderness would be -- [inaudible] extraction industries, oil, gold, silver, they're always looking to despoil the state. >> now, did t.r. ever visit alaska? >> he never visited alaska. his opportunity to come with the herriman expedition in 1899, but he got back from the spanish-american war and then ran for be governor of new york. but what he did was receive these volumes of the herriman report which was john burrows
and john muir and others that had went up to alaska and wrote these reports on what were our heirlooms, what needed to be saved, two areas that are just under pressure to develop, bristol bay. now the pebble mine company out of anglo american corporation up in if canada is trying to destroy the great fishery areas that roosevelt fought to save, and the same with the arctic refuge. dwight eisenhower created it in 1960, and now you're hearing drill, baby, drill up there. oil was found in '68. that would be like mining the grand canyon or chopping own redwood trees in the national park. it's a bad idea because the public doesn't get up there to see the arctic. they think of it in terms of energy instead of a gift that we're going to passen to future generations. >> doug brinkly, what role did alaska play in the founding of
the bull moose party? is. >> very seminal role. it's a long story, but roosevelt after he left the presidency, 48 hours after he left he saved mount olympus in washington state. went to africa for the smithsonian institute, and while he was gone he had left behind for william howard taft his chief forester. the taft administration started giving sweetheart deals to corporations, what they called the guggenheim syndicate. it would be today's exxonmobil or shell. and giving them these sweetheart deals, clearcutting whole areas and leaving, really the beginning of the raping of the coal lands of alaska. pin cho blew a whistle and went to see roosevelt in italy, came back, and one of his first speeches he gave at the waldorf-astoria was between all the outdoor people, the america the beautiful movement. and roosevelt weighed in on it and ended up creating the most
successful third party in american history, the bull moose party in 1912. and that bull moose conservation plank becomes what the ccc will become under fdr. roosevelt had all these ideas of how to inventory our biology in the country, but also save these treasured landscapes. >> you have a chapter in "the quiet world" called the new wilderness generation. who is that about? is. >> well, the new wilderness generation, what happens after fdr dies in 1919 and, believe me, he was a force of nature, a tornado, he was our naturalist president who was a bird watcher, a great hunter. he saved 230 million acres of wild america, so after he died no -- there was not one figure who stepped into the fray, but leopold out of new jersey had wrote roosevelt a letter, and eventually leopold, i think, is one of the great writers in american history wrote a county
almanac. he becomes a foot soldier of the movement. a couple up in alaska did all the wildlife guide books and things, set up a -- it all leads, eventually, to the wilderness society being created which is saying we need some parts of america that don't have roads, that in order to be here in hot downtown austin, you want to believe that you could take a day's drive and be in a place like big bend national park, go somewhere where you can get away from industrialization. and so these are the foot soldiers of the roosevelt revolution. >> who was william o. douglas, and what role did he play in alaska? >> everybody who hears me right now needs to know about william 06789 douglas. he's our lodgest-serving supreme court justice. he came from yakima, washington, and i think he's the most powerful conservation spokesperson america had after theodore roosevelt. he wrote a credible book called "my wilderness," one about the west, one about the east. he wrote a children's biography
of john muir, and here he is the supreme court justice. what douglas would do is do walks. not sit-ins like in the civil rights movements. he'd gather a gun. of people and say let's save the canal, let's save the beaches along the olympic and washington state. and douglas also was very close to the kennedy family and was a promoter of racial -- [inaudible] so by 1960 douglas is a big influence on why we have the arctic wilderness saved. in the '60s he's sort of seminal with secretary stuart udall, bobby kennedy, john f. kennedy on making people understand that conservation and environmentalism was good for public health, that people needed this, that we needed clean air and clean water, and that species needed to be saved. we once had a billion passenger pigeons. there's not one alive today. but a species like the polar bear, for example, who are very stressed right now, the american
public has to say, no, enough's enough. we need these species. you saw a minute ago i have three little kids running around here. all little kids love an halls and wildlife, and this book tells the story of how wildlife got saved not just in alaska, but in america. >> walt disney. >> disney's seminal in my book because he did some documentaries on alaska that were game changers. one was about -- he won the academy award, disney, and it had all these seals in it, and it was about stop slaughtering the northern seal out of existence. he did one called white wilderness which rules up until disney was the big, bad wolf. they were something you would kill or shoot. they were predators, and they were almost treated like vermin. disney did a documentary with them as little cubs lick ago woman's face, but it suddenly made kids like wolves for the first time as an animal.
and out of all that you see the reintroduction of wolves in places like jell-ostone -- yellowstone and other places in the united states. most americans want to think we have a country where we haven't driven the wolf completely out of north america. so the wolf survives in america because of this band of conservationists i write about in "the quiet world." >> now, there are a lot of good pictures in this book as well that we really can't show you, but if you do pick it up, there's a lot of beautiful color pictures as well. and finally, you end this book with the end of the eisenhower administration. >> yes. because i did two incredible things at the end of this administration. he saved the arctic refuge. eisenhower -- all of those acres up there, and he demilitarized antarctica. we have eisenhower to thank for creating our largest wildlife refuge in the united states. it's the biggest thing, the
arctic refuge, and this election cycle you're going to hear a lot about drill or sell into economic prosperity. the truth of the matter is, we don't want to start mortgaging and -- our great heirlooms, things that have been saved. the arctic refuge does not need to become a platform for shell oil to, um, drill for, get a little bit of gas for a few years and ruin a treasured landscape. >> so you take a point of view in this book? >> very much so. i feel myself part of the people i write about only because i love america so much, and i grew up going to the smoky mountains and the everglades and yellowstone. and people that say there's nothing up there are lying to the american people. it is a wonderland of nature and wildlife. this is my son johnny. >> here's some young brinklies here too. [laughter] well, we've been talking with him, but what i wanted to tell the kids was behind us here is
the c-span bus, and we've had a bus now for, golly, 20 years or so, a couple of buses, and it's currently our 2012 campaign bus. but doug brinkly is the inspiration behind c-span having a traveling bus. tell us about your book. >> i wrote a book called "the magic bus," but i used to take college students on the road. we'd read john steinbeck in california, we'd visit the reagan library and the truman library, all-purpose american studies class on wheels, and i did a book notes with brian lamb, and brian really liked the idea of getting out -- we had a similar vision of getting out. there's a lot of historic sites to see as you're doing covering these book festivals. and the idea at c-span came, let's get some buses and have public policy from are across america instead of it being ghettoized just in a couple of east coast cities. i think it's been be a great success because it's given
c-span the ability to cover events like this. >> doug brinkley, you're nowlying since katrina in austin, since you left new orleans. what's your day job? >> i'm a professor of history at rice university. i'm teaching three classes right now -- >> which is in houston. >> and i teach just fall, and then i have nine months off to work, and i've been working on a biography of walter cronkite who went to school here in austin at ut, and all his papers are at the briscoe center here, so i've been meticulously going through those. i'm coming out in may of '12, simply could "cronkite." >> we've been talking about "the quiet world: saving alaska's wilderness kingdom, 1879-1960." professor brinkley, as always, we appreciate you. >> thank you. >> and now, next panel in the booktv tent is just about to begin. it's about mexican drug cartels, and we're going to go in there
now. it's johan grillo who wrote a book along with civil crave long-- sylvia longmire. after this panel, live from the texas book festival, we're going to get your reaction, so you'll have a chance to weigh in as well. but now, back to the booktv tent. >> thank you very much. [inaudible conversations] >> good afternoon. um, my name is ricardo ainslee, and i'm pleased to welcome you to the c-span broadcast of the narco wars, inside the drug cartels. to my right, is sylvia longmire whose book is "cartel: the coming invasion of mexico's drug wars." sylvia is a former air force special agent who served as a senior intelligence analyst on
drug trafficking and border violence for the state of california. she's also a regular contributor to homeland security today magazine, and she's appeared on cnn and bbc and other media. can you hear me back there? yes, okay. and she's currently an independent consultant who writes and consults on security matters. to my left is johan grillo whose book "el narco: inside mexico's criminal insurgency," is also more of a mexico-side telling of the narco war situation. johan has reported for latin america since 2001, with the international media including time magazine, cnn, the
associated press, the pbs "newshour", the houston chronicle, the cbc, the sunday telegraph and on and on. he's covered the mexican drug wars for a good part of that time including he's had the opportunity to interview two mexican presidents, several attorney generals and so on. he presently lives in mexico city. ..
>> currently the roughly five major cartels that are battling each other for control of drug trafficking routes into the united states from mexico and also fighting over control of major drug ship employees within mexico. they are also fighting against mexican law enforcement and mexican government efforts so that they can pretty much operate independently and autonomously with very little government interference. the violence has been increasing over the last several years. every year we are seeing a higher death toll. right now it's estimated between 46,000-50,000 dead since president calderón took office in december 2006. initially it was just narco on narco violence. it was just rivals been killed, stages, people who lost drug loads, et cetera. we are seeing an increase in the targeting and death of innocent
civilians which is disturbing for folks on both sides of the border. spent a lot of people here i'm sure it had about mexican drug cause for a time. go back to 1970 to 1980s. you remember stories of violence of drug trafficking. more recently you see the stories of mass graves and massacres and wondering what's happened, what is the difference there? if we see the escalation of this conflict become a real armed conflicts now, you can see when you start to break it down real patterns, real-time friends where this has escalated, and so we start seeing in 2004 we started seeing the first time where rather than gang bangers, guys with shaved heads and tattoos, killing each other we start seeing groups formed on military style units. group with ak-47s, rpgs,
radios, ranks, starting to fight. it makes sense of what was happening, i found that this would affect the country. and from 2006 we started seeing didn't decapitate, chop heads off, this is a tactic which people from the start seeing on tv shows from people doing this in iraq and they started only happen in mexico in 2006. by 2007 we saw dozens but by 2008 we saw hundreds of decapitations your we saw this escalation. in 2006 we saw calderón take the presidency and start to react to this and declare war on drug cartels. and in 2008 we saw incredible escalation where we start seeing massacres with 22 people killed, 25 people killed in single battles. and in 2010 last year we saw kind of the latest conflict
where we are seeing on a real tragic, horrific scale. or as the last couple of years, now we are seeing mass graves with more than 200 corpses, single massacres and killings 72 people. so things now really comparable with any war zone. and i'm wondering, how does this happen, and a real tragedy, but i'm asking people, like sylvia said, it's not like bad guys killing bad guys. now it's normal people been really hurt by this conflict, and a real crucial situation we have to start, you know, in this country and around the world we will have to now say what is going on in this place. >> i want to come back to the in a minute, but i wonder if each of you could talk a little bit, sylvia, for example, ioan has mentioned the escalation in 2008 how all of the sudden the
violence that was localized in various areas, something seems to erupt everywhere. i don't know if completely different scale. what can you help us understand about the origin of the escalation? what changed? >> one of the things we're starting to see is a phenomenon that is being held at being called atomization, like a perfume sprayer. president calderón strategy is one of kingston strategy going up to the head of state, chop up ahead of the snake and the rest of the snake dies. that's been the idea. unfortunately, the reality has been very different. there have been more kingpins either arrested or killed by the mexican government in the last 18 months since the drug war really begin six or seven years ago. however, the problem is that the cartels themselves have not withered and died. they are just broken up, split up into dozens of smaller many cartels or criminal groups.
these groups have just spread out throughout mexico. they've realigned with some of the major cartels. they've gone independent and they are still engaging in the same drug trafficking activity they were. they are just harder to identify and harder to track down. also we are starting to the expansion by some of the cartels, most notably into other types of crimes, most notably kidnapping and ransom. they are increasingly targeting migrant. not just mexican migrants are going towards the border but also central american and south american migrants which is using massive for a transport to get to the board. in dealing, we are seeing these mass graves, mass execution of the 72 migrants the coming from central america and they are targeting those migrants are very vulnerable. they don't have anything to defend themselves with, but they're seen as the cartel, by the court to as a possible source of ransom because they have family here in the u.s. so they are being targeted for violence, for kidnapping, for
extortion. so as the cartels branch into these other areas, they are even into media piracy, oil theft. as they expand into other criminal activity that also helps contribute to the rise in violence. >> do you have some thoughts why it erupted in 2008 like this? >> sure. i think -- the question was, asking ioan idiot additional thoughts as to what it erupted in 2008 and the way in which it did it. >> i think with the process of the violence in mexico, you had, whereas in mexico for 71 years it was controlled by one party who ran everything, from the president down to the mayor's office, the local police forces and to the criminals. and when we had this great change in democracy in 2000, to a multiparty system which was a
big time celebration of while in mexico we can have democracy, the kind of celebration we're seeing now in egypt. and a big hope for the future. well, what happens when different parties in power and mayors offices, states, and a federal level, you start to get a breakdown in the system of corruption and the system of control. so what happened is gradually you saw more and more of the fragmentation of the mexican state. and what we really see in mexico, tragically, is often police forces fighting police forces. we've seen concrete cases where the federal police are attacked by a group of armed men in ski masks with heavy weapons, and the state police, some of these, one concrete case for example, they attack the federal police, they left the attack in a mitsubishi van and they've got a punctured tire.
they found that the state police to help them out. these are hitmen, assassins. but the state police to help them out, take into a wal-mart store where they will patch this. and got a way to fight another day. now, more and more of this happens because cartel black commanders as they call them selves, these militia, grew in power. so much of a where you have daily we're seeing this in northern mexico, groups of 50 our men and convoys attacking police basis, ambushing military convoys, kidnapping, sometimes 20 people at a time, or 50 people at a time. now, once you let these groups around, you start seeing an escalation of violence. in 2008 we saw all hell breaking loose, as they tore each other apart. a simple escalation of force and
who can keep control these parts of mexico. and like i say, until we have this problem, take this from the reserves or. if you don't stop this problem now who knows how bad it can be next year or the year after? >> that brings up the question of the emergence of paramilitary groups within the violence that is taking place in mexico. and you both in your books speak to that. i wonder if you could elaborate on how this shift takes place, where suddenly you go from local mafia's or regional mafias into groups that have these military dash of paramilitary components that alter the nature of the dynamics that was taking place between the groups. >> ioan does a good job of explaining this in his book as well, but there was a crazy thing that happened in mexico in roughly 96-97 but at the time of the head of the gulf cartel decided he wanted to form his
own private army to defend his territory, defend his operations. this was something very similar to what happened in colombia in the 1980s, pablo escobar start his own private army originally called death to the kidnappers because he was very upset that the left wing communist guerrillas, the farc, were starting to kill his people and go after his operations. so he formed his own paramilitary group and then others did the same. he recruited from the best of the past from mexican special forces troops in 96-97 and started his own private army to do just that. over the years he became more powerful, became more savage. and other cartel saw what they were doing and it became a game of keeping up with the joneses. what ever they were doing when they started getting into the beheadings, the other cartel in order to prove their dissent powerful, just as powerful or
even more so, they had to also start engaging in the beheadings and leaving the different threats and different messages and the heads in bags in front of schools. so, they were really come in my opinion, depending on how you want to define paramilitary, and i have ioan can go into that in detail, really where the first paramilitary group working that way in mexico. the other cartels had to have their own little armies as well so you groups like los negros, and others which are mostly cops from chihuahua working for the juárez cartel that everyone kind of has the own little enforcement, their own army to meet at the violence. it's not the kingpins, getting their hands dirty. they have people who they hired to do that. the most recent incident has been happening in veracruz. you have a group called, came up and down to 35 bodies, most of which are assumed to be members
or former members in this case, and more and more of these bodies have been showing up. they say they are a vigilante group. they are there for the people of mexico trying to clean the streets. when intern it looks like they're just another enforcement group working for the cartel jalisco. so there's a lot of history, a lot of uncertainty surrounding this group. but what we do know for certain is the cartel to have their armies to defend their operations that are engaging in increasingly savage behavior on their behalf. >> do you want to talk to us about the paramilitary, ioan? >> through researching this issue, from the beginning trying to make sense of the mexican drug cartel, who really are these people, i always made a lot of effort to try to reach cartel people themselves and talk to people involved in these organizations, both inside prison and outside prison.
just to try and do, as a journalist you have to try to get the real answers. but the reader, not just like what you can hear on the wrist and so forth but just to try to get to this. so over the years i did manage to talk to more and more people actively inside cartels, but sometimes inside prisons, sometimes out in the streets. and over the same years you see radical changes in the groups they were part of. themselves often starting to make sense of these radical changes. but when you start to talk about the paramilitary formation, you start to meet people, and when they were recruited, the organizations have ranks themselves. military style ranks. they have first commander, second commanders. they have within some of these organizations medals of bravery. they have certain radio signals they use.
it's based on the military because a lot of these guys are trained in the military. now the mexican military had training as well from around the world. including with the united states and the israelis have also given training. so these pretty well-qualified soldiers work as mercenaries in creating these quasi-military groups and it's hard to define them. are they cover the groups, paramilitary groups, insurgent groups? how do you make sense of these organizations? they are very, very efficient at what they do in terms of murder. they can get away with murder on this horrific scale. also, they would use the automatic weapons, ak-47s and the h.r. 15 automatic rifles. and again, dozens and dozens of
the scenes where people have committed their merge and often they will spray 300-500 bullets at their victims. so it seems like, here we are in downtown austin, very nice. i've seen a lot of these mexican cities nice downtowns like this, and the murder will happen right in these kind of places at any time of day or night where they will spray 300 bullets, 500 bullets. as well as getting their target, or often would be policemen, they also get the person driving behind or the guy standing on the edge of the street selling. so you see a real horrific escalation of the type of armed groups that are fighting within mexico. >> you know, you raise one of the issues that i think a lot of us have not thought of in this particular way. that is the idea that what's going on in mexico has shifted
from a war between cartels, i mean, what you call a criminal insurgency. and i wonder if both of you could talk about that concept. what does that mean if we think about what's going on in mexico as a criminal insurgency, as opposed to a mafia type operation? >> well, in certain parts of mexico, people are under, a lot of people are under the mistaken notion that every square inch of mexico is bleeding, and it's not. there are very specific areas of mexico that are in bad shape for very specific reasons. it's because drugs are either going across the board in that part of the country or drugs are coming in from outside the country and that's where they're being redistributed. so there are many parts of mexico that are perfectly safe for tourists, mexican citizens,
et cetera. that doesn't mean that the mexican cartels are not there. okay? it's likely every square inch of mexico does have some kind of influence but where this piece it means there's only one cartel there and they are not fighting over it. now, those parts that are more violent, the problem is that the cartels are acting almost as a de facto government. because the mexican authorities do not have control over the most basic law enforcement functions, justice functions, et cetera. the cartels are also becoming more involved in manipulating elections. now, this is very, very important to understand when we start talking about, anytime we use the word insurgency. and also there's the word narcoterrorism being thrown around. the car till to that want to take over the government. it's not like colombia where you have left his his comic timing is, marxist groups who actually
want to run the government. all right? they want to operate with freedom from government and freedom from authority. so they do enter into the manipulation of the election and they are also kidnapping and assassination mayors because they want people in office who will either look the other way, or actively collaborate with him to allow them to maximize profit. that's very important to understand. because of that, you're looking at a criminal insurgency in the sense that they do have a hand in how the government is working and they do have in many parts of mexico to control, active manipulation of the government, of the police, into a very, to a much smaller extent, military operation. so at least in my opinion that's what that means. >> it's a very central question. how do you make sense of what's happening down in mexico right now. some people say it's just cops and robbers. it's a crime problem.
the american government is very confused about this but it doesn't seem to know what's going on. even the same people seem to change their mind. hillary clinton, when she first became secretary of state went to mexico and said, it's a crime problem. this is like the u.s. had back in the '80s with a few people fighting in ghettos, nothing too much to worry about. then the next year there was a car bombing and so forth and my god, god, it's an insurgency in mexico. so she wasn't really sure how to make sense of this. so how do you make sense? i mean, from covering this, it's so clear it's gone way beyond the realms of cops and robbers, the realms of the mafia. i mean, we talk about al capone. in al capone's most famous massacre, i believe seven people were killed. in one massacre in mexico we had
72 people killed. an extraordinary level of attacks. when you can get, and this happens every day, 10 policemen kidnapped and beheaded and thrown in the road. i mean, these are not normal times. this is an extraordinary situation. so, it's a very controversial term. in a sense of the term people are worried about the idea of what counterinsurgency means if they're worried about is this really what the cia would or, with the cia want to steal money or a plan to invade mexico, what ever. sensitive terms. but we have to understand mexico and the situation in mexico, you know, we are talking about criminal warlords, criminals who are capable of overwhelming states and government forces. we saw one situation where they
took a mayor of a local town, took into the center of town and stoned him to death. now, if you say this is not a threat to authority him if this is not armed rebellion against authority, i mean, what is? if you start with 50 guys and spray a police station day after day, i mean, this is a real decision threat to authority in this country. so to say these are criminal and surgeons, they are an armed rebellion against the government, a new type of threat, to understand it now, the mexican drug cartels, because they don't have an ideology, like al qaeda or like some nationalist groups, or communist groups, they don't have a religion thinking, but they are a force of power. and when you have states right now or places like citadel juárez which are overwhelmed by
drug cartel, become a parable power, not the newspaper, the main newspaper of citadel juárez, white, brave newspaper, brave journalists in mexico covering this. they had one of their photographers killed during a lunch break, a kid who just graduated, just finished an apprenticeship to start his work, a young man looking for to his career in journalism who took his lunch break and was gunned down. they were stunned by this. they wrote a front-page editorial where they address the drug cartel, who was also addressing the mixing cartel. they said you are a de facto power of the city. what do you want from us? even in war we have to have some rules. what do you want from us? now, as well as, we have to understand it. we have to, in understanding
this we can't be scared of how people may use that language. we have to try to define the language. people say we shouldn't mention the word insurgency because you will suddenly get some people in a crazy counterinsurgency campaign or sending marines to mexico to quarrel with them. we have to try to use the language that make sense of th this. but also, mexico's important not just for its own sake, but around the world we live in a new reality. these are no longer the rules of the 20th century and we talked about the tongass and the military and so forth the we are living in a new reality, and around the world using very circumstances which lead to criminal militias growth in countries around the world. and many other countries where situation like mexico could emerge. just look around in this neighborhood at el salvador
where you again members causing a national strike of bus drivers. or in brazil where a group of the first command of could attack bank, dozens of policemen and a single afternoon. or jamaica where you had 70 people killed over a cocaine trafficker being extradited to the united states. you have seen many vulnerable countries, and this is the reality we have to do with and have to wake up to. >> you know, one question that i think that days, is an effort to understand the way in which these cartel groups are using media and, in fact, you talk about in the editorial piece what i also found breathtaking, and just stunning in its declaration. but all over mexico you have these very sophisticated attempt
to communicate messages to the government, to local law enforcement, to the citizens. and i wonder if you could each talk about that year because we have, you know, pervasive manifestation of the violence in communities. we've got youtube videos. we've got the use of the internet. it's a change the complexion of this kind of a situation, and i'm interested in it as a phenomenon, why are the cartels engaging this kind of effort? but i'm also interested in your reflections in this in terms of what it feels like to the average citizen to have to encounter this kind of message. constantly. >> the use of social media in mexico has really exploded but it's a double edged sword, and i'm dashed i will explain why in a separate what's happening in mexico, more journalists have
been killed in mexico in the last couple of years than ever before. i think the total is around 36 or 40. ioan can talk about that more than i can. so what happened is when there is heavy narco activity in one particular part of mexico, there is often a media blackout because the cartels don't want to please join it. they don't want the army showing up so you don't hear anything of what's going on by the mexican media. so in order to combat those news blackouts, citizens have turned to twitter, facebook, myspace, et cetera. mostly twitter because it is more real time, in order to get out information to people about what is a narco blockade, where there is a shootout going on so people can avoid it. and it has been really an incredible source of information for people living in these areas to find out what's going on. hash tag -- is one of the most heavily followed the threads on
twitter for people to find that because reynosa is one hotspots going on in the mexico texas border right now. is the only way they can get any information at. the downside of that is that it's public, which means that the narco's can use it, too. not only can the narco choose it to get the information and just how ever they see fit but they can do that for their own pr campaign. the narc was are using youtube to publicize their own beheadings and execution. there have been dozens of videos that have been posted on youtube so they use it as propaganda. they use as intimidation. they use it for threatening purposes. also used for misinformation. so that's the downside of that kind of social media can be used by good guys and bad guys. now, in an even more macabre twist, we have a situation a couple, i does not two, three weeks ago where there were two
people who were beheaded and disemboweled and then hung in a public place. there was a sign placed next to the cadavers, ostensibly saying that they were essentially murdered for engaging in social media or using social media to publicize information that they should not have. now, we don't know who these people were. we don't know if they actually did what they said that they did. so if we take them at their word, we can assume that they were parted for using social media. and about a week later a reporter working for one of the big media outlets was identified. she was also murdered for using twitter specifically. and this was more hard-core and even more disturbing because everybody knew who she was. they knew what her twitter identity was and they knew what kind of information she is putting out there, which was, it
did pose a threat to the cartel and that she was actively soliciting tips or information from citizens that we try to slow down or stop their operations and negatively impacting. so that hit hard because we knew who she was. we knew what she was doing and she was murdered because of it. so it's a national progression. if the cartel have very successfully managed to shutdown immediate in many parts of mexico and limit what they're able to report. so if the people of mexican progressive social media in order to take the place of journalism, then it's a natural progression for the cartel to start going after them. these aren't innocent people that we are talking about, that they're now starting to go after. so there are a lot of people who thought that they were anonymous using twitter and facebook and such, who are now terrified. bloggers have been threatened and certain blogs have been mentioned on some of the sons.
to our people of shutdown applause and stop tweeting because they are afraid they will be next. >> first of all i'd like to say i'm a mexican journalist. over all have really stood out during this conflict. there's some incredibly brave people out there. trying to do their job. often paid poorly, working for local media. everyplace where there's major drug activity and violence. and these people who carry on doing their job are the threats and under fear. just imagine a situation where you know for your work, you know, you're constantly thinking that one day these guys could come for you. you are imagining peace and ours were these guys might one day, you might get out, a tour to come suddenly and you're coming to work and suddenly the guise of their and they're coming for
you. these are people living with her family, with children. they're doing this because they still believe in freedom that they believe in freedom of information and trying to cover this story. now, it's been a very hard debate about how do you cover this from the point of view of the media. so when the media first of all were very good, at kidding to crime scenes very fast, in mexico for the journalists, drive very fast in cars to the scenes, racing around or on motorbikes and are arriving at the scenes and giving and taking a photograph and often they have pretty graphic photos of the victims. now, after a while the media can we start to realize both internationally and the mexican media, we are playing to their propaganda by covering all this
violence. now, we have some content with and people associated with the cartel, on a low level. and they started phoning up the local newspaper and saying, you know, there's a body on 10th street. go check it out if you would arrive there before the police. so it becomes very worrying, they want the media to cover their violence as a message of propaganda. they are sync get down there, there is ahead or a body hanging from a bridge, or a body decorated with a note by it. and a note attacking somebody or giving a warning. they wanted to use the media to get the message across. and they say to themselves, we will carry out an attack or a car bombing or whatever, at 9:00, and knowing the 10:00 news
will come on, and the 10:00 news will start, breaking news, body at this place. so then the media, how can we try and cover this list, or shall we not put the notes by them. it's a difficult debate. the mexican government was saying don't repeat the narco messages. they hang blanket on bridges. when you're driving in the car, you see a blanket on a bridge with a message from these drug gains so that the government is not saying don't cover this. cover less. mexico is a great country. you're getting bad press. for us and international media were giving us the bad press. affecting tourism, effecting dollars but i do agree it's a difficult situation. you can go steal to cancun, go have a great time and not see anything about this. even if some of the front-line states, very, very hard hit,
very, very hard hit, going to a restaurant where a policeman was killed at 9:00 in the morning having breakfast. they came in and shot him dead what he was having his breakfast with ak-47s. within an hour the body had been removed and the restaurant was clearing up for lunch. you could come and have for lunch and not even know that a murder in the morning. it's kind of a new situation. many parts are safe. but also we have to keep covering this. it's a very difficult situation. like sylvia said, it's gotten even more intense, the pressure to people are not even scared to tweet or blog about this. every time you write a blog, you think, how do i do this so i don't mention the name of the cartel question of a form of self-censorship where you censor what you write because of the
threats of these organizations. what they can do to you and your family. >> let's shift the conversation all little bit to thinking about this side of the border. and there's a lot of talk about spillover and how much has the situation in mexico come into the net states, the dea had one estimate that there were cartel presents in something like 250 american cities and so on. and sylvia, i wonder if you could start with that and talk about the whole process or the problem or the reality of spillover? >> this is one of my favorite subjects to talk about a show of hands, how many people believe border violence bill over or the drug war in mexico have spilled over into united states? interesting to the problem is there is no standard definition of what border violence bill over means. dhs, they put together a
department element to be put together a working group a couple years ago and came up with kind of a rough definition but it's not official. department of public safety has a completely different definition. the texas border sheriff coalition has a fair definition of what it means. so it really depends on who you ask. and the debate ultimately comes down to statistical evidence versus anecdotal evidence. and they generally do not match up. so starting with the statistics. if you take a look at the fbi uniform crime day to come which is what dhs secretary napolitano uses to say that the port is safer than it has ever been, she takes a look at the major cities like san diego, nogales, el paso, and looks at whether a violent crime stats are. and they have gone down. in fact, el paso is ranked as the safest city in all of the united states pic they only had
five murders last year. san diego violent crime rates are down 25%. you can go to any border city on the u.s., go there on vacation, take your kids to school, go to work, go to the supermarket. you don't have to worry about getting caught in a hail of gunfire because you're in the wrong neighborhood or the wrong place at the wrong time. you don't have to worry about driving i.t. to phoenix and getting pulled over at a checkpoint and someone pulling out of the rv and kidnapping you and taking you to a safe house, et cetera. in that regard. you take a look at the statistics, it sounds like everything is all well and good. then you take a look at the anecdotal evidence that doesn't somehow get lumped into the statistics. is the stuff that is going on not just on the southwest border. this stuff is happening well beyond. but starting their we had our first drug war related beheading in chandler, arizona, several months ago because the guy lost a 400-pound drug load of dope. and las vegas, in 2008 in
october, a six year old caucasian child, had nothing to do with the cartel or anything was kidnapped at gunpoint after his parents were tucked it in zip tied by armed men who broke into the house and kidnapped this child because his grandfather owned a mexican drug cartel over $1 million. in northern alabama in 2009, five men who were tortured, electrocuted, then executed had their throats slit in shelby county, alabama, because they owe to the gulf cartel a lot of money. the largest methamphetamine lab ever busted in american history was in when the county just outside of atlanta, being run by la familia, a grenade was thrown into a strip club in texas but again that was affiliated with the gulf cartel. i mean, these are just some examples. and the couches a few weeks ago there was a shootout on a highway between people who associated with the gulf cartel. we are starting to see these incidents more and more. and again, not just in the
southwest border but well beyo beyond. the problem is with statistics is that there is no way to capture anytime that there is an incident like this, to identify them with cartel activity. because when you arrest these guys can sometimes they don't know who they are working for. they are not going to self identify. let's say you have some gang bangers or shooting it out for control of a corner or some kind of drug activity within a city along the border. they get arrested. they were not say by the way, i'm with this federation, just legal. it doesn't work that way. for trying to identify it as a violent incident or taking a look at the statistics to say this kidnapping or murder or assault or this program was affiliated with the drug war, it doesn't capture that. plus the characteristic of border violence on the mexican side is criminal on criminal. so ostensibly if you're taking a look at border violence spillover, you're going to say okay, and it's going to be
criminal on criminal here in the united states. dhs has, and plenty said that they do not maintain any statistics on criminal on criminal violence related to the drug war in the united states. so ultimately nobody knows how bad the situation is. criminals are not going to report it if they get busted. and illegal immigrants who are very often the victims of kidnapping and ransom operation here in the united states, they were not reported because they are afraid of getting deported. so we don't have a strategy in place because we don't understand the nature of the problem or how bad the problem is and that's extreme a frustrating to all i can tell you is that we know that the cartels, the last national drug intelligence center report that just came out a few weeks ago says the cartels have a presence in one way, shape, or form in over 1000 u.s. cities and communities, and 90% of the drugs being distributed here in the united states are being distributed by the mexican
cartel. they also control millions and millions of acres of our taxpayer funded national parks and national forests where they are growing marijuana. those marijuana growths are being mistreated by men are armed with automatic weapons who have shot and killed both hikers and deputies who are trying to get rid of those marijuana plants. that is happening in over a dozen u.s. states, as far north as michigan and wisconsin. this is not just a border problem. this is a united states problem. >> we've got our cue that we are almost to the q&a portion. so before we get to that i have one less question that i want to ask our authors. and that is about weapons trafficking. and the process and the issues involved in american weapons ending up in mexico. if you could start with that, transform. >> an issue here in texas and in
arizona, particularly. the amount of weapons sold in the u.s.a. have gone to the cartels. and people can start arguing about the percentages, you know, how many of the cartels guns come from the united states. it's a proven fact and they're going there on a large-scale. that's that's not enlargement. people will start arguing about the process. whatever you say about the percentages, we know that thousands of weapons in the hands of the cartels were sold in stores often here in texas or over in arizona. some other places of the united states as well. particularly the rifles, often these are made in europe, imported to the united states, soldier and go to the cartels. they are their favorite weapon of choice. also, the aar 15. they will buy them here.
off until pay american citizens $50, $100 to go and buy a gun. then they will take itself and it will be used to commit murders in mexico. anthe ammunition, you know, rounds, thousands of rounds, a couple days ago, 50,000 rounds was seized in brownsville. and sometimes more in our higher caliber weapons, machine guns, browning machine guns. they will be soldier in the united states and use for the first to stop the convoys. mexico has been very hard on this. the u.s. is responsible for this. it has to take more drastic measures. and also we understand here in the united states there's, when it comes to gun control, or whatever, that debate, it is definitely linked, definitely a
question of tens of thousands of guns going from the united states to these mexico growth to choose to carry out murder on a colossal scale south of the border. >> i just want to make one quick point. i think weapons trafficking is probably the most controversial debate when we talk about the drug war. it's easily the most emotional, the most heated. and like ioan says we know for a fact there are tens of thousands of guns that are flowing south from the southwest border states and beyond. actually washington state is the number for source of guns going into mexico. they are on the canadian border to do not does come from the southwest border state. we no cartels are getting military grade weapons from central american countries and from within government stock military stocks within mexico. the problem is you of u.s. government telling you that most of them are coming from u.s. forces.
you have pro-gun lobby groups like the nra, national shooting sports association, what you have a feeling there's a lot of people who were members who say most of those guns are coming from non-us forces. so it's extremely political. what i will type a short is that nobody, not the u.s. government, not the nra, not the mexican government, nobody knows exactly how many guns are coming from exactly what sources or in what proportion. because there's just not enough data. there are not enough statistics. only a very small fraction of the guns that are used in mexico to kill people are ever submitted for tracing. so unfortunately as long as you have these two very emotional and very political camps fighting each other over who is right, we are at a stalemate when it comes to enacting a special policy to try to stem the southbound weapons flow. >> thank you very much. i think what we'll do now is to invite the audience to have some
dialogue with our authors. and i would ask our authors, if you can come in response to some of these questions, take the opportunity to weave in any ideas you have about what we can do here to help the situation. because it's a situation that is obviously advocates us. so, if you're trying to do that, that would be great. thank you. >> first, i want to thank you for your work and i visit is a pretty courageous endeavor you're doing. first off, is there any hope or what you think the impact of the legalization of drugs on some level of the united states, what impact would that have? and secondly, white rays of hope are there within mexico in economics to go but are something that could somehow also be helpful or hopeful as we move forward? >> thank you very much for the questions. the issue of legalization of
drugs, another the controversial issue. clearly the issue of american drug policy must be linked to this mexican drug war. whatever your point of view is. again with a clandestine industry, we don't know the exact numbers but it's reasonable to say that mexican cartels make about $30 billion every year smuggling marijuana, crystal meth, heroin and cocaine to america youth. this is the land of milk and honey. over 1 10 years you are talkingf $300 billion. which is the oxygen to these cartels. these groups are funded by american drug users and american drug use. now, how much with the effect have like you said of legalization on some level? well, when you talk about marijuana, again can we do know the exact numbers and people are the about these often with
political agendas in mind. what we again know that tons and tons of marijuana are coming from mexico and then sold to american youth. they seized 130 tons of marijuana in tijuana. in q1 over the border from california. a few kilometers away, california they are selling it in medical the splendid dash of dispensaries. the cartels killed 30 drug addicts in an apparent revenge for the attack on the cops. it must be very important to them. so if whatever the opinions are about if marijuana were legalized in the united states, it would take away billions of dollars that go to mexico and to pay for assassins and the corrupt politicians and the cost care in many of these communities.
>> one of the biggest challenges with taking a look at legalization, and the most practical of all because you have impractical and more practical solution for me take a look at this, let's say that we were to decriminalize just marijuana use tomorrow, the problem is that the share of profits that the cartels are making now from drug trafficking has been reduced because they have expanded into other profit-making opportunities like kidnapping and ransom, extortion, oil theft, i receive. some of the things i mentioned earlier. out of the drug profits. there's some experts in mexico they feel that drug trafficking account for some cartels for perhaps only half of the money they're bringing in. and out of that half, only a percentage of that, maybe 20-30%, is coming from the sale of marijuana. so if you were to legalize marijuana user, yes, that would make an impact but however they're still making money hand over fist over the sale of that amphetamine, heroin.
cocaine is by far the biggest moneymaker. and kidnapping. so it would hurt but we need more than that. >> can you speak on any international cooperation with the drug cartels from other countries, or just anybody in general? >> giving cooperation between the drug cartels speed is an international countries. >> you mean like iran speaker's clandestine. >> okay, a question of middle eastern terror groups using mexico to attack the united states. the question has been thrown around down for several years while the situation has been escalating. there's a lot of different stories, the story of the alleged iranian agent who went to give drug cartels one and half million ambassadors.
there's other accusations of people being involved. now, and the particular concrete case of the iranian agent, we'll have to see how it plays out. i think that particular case reads very much like an intelligence operation. and possibly some kind of intelligence population distinct iran to the drug cartels or the allegedly, being involved to attack the saudi ambassador come it doesn't make much sense to them. they make billions of dollars traffic drugs to america. it does make a lot of sense to start attacking middle eastern politics. you can definitely see in other cases how groups, when they look at a destabilized country, when you look at militias roaming the countryside, explosives, guns
around assassins for hire, they can see that as an attractive option to try to get involved. so i would say from the point of view the united states, because it could lead to worse things in the future. and spent i would just say real quick, it's bad for business for drug traffickers to get involved with terrorists because they know that the hammer of the united states, the full wrath of our military law enforcement et cetera, if you're even to get a whiff that hezbollah, al qaeda, any other middle eastern or other foreign terrorist group were actively involved with the cartels in mexico, the last thing that the mexican government and the mexican people want in the country is even a shoe lace from a combat boot that reluctantly an american soldier on their sovereign land. so if all of a sudden there was a width that the cartels were involved with tears, talk about an excuse to put our noses in middle of mexican business, that would be it. we can't shut down the border but they which are tried their
damnedest if there's some kind of operation like that going on. it's in the mexican government's best interest to prevent that from happening and it's very, very bad for cartels profit to engage in that relationship. i don't think it's a particularly likely scenario. >> my name is daniel and i wanted to just say, this is odd is a complicated situation. it seems like something as simple as just building a more fortified fence would not be sufficient to address this issue. so i was wondering what type of draw in general policy recommendation you would make, both to the mexican government and the united states government. thank you. >> well, there's three areas i think we could talk about. one is in terms of mexican law enforcement, it's a real mess in the like i said because police fight police. and in mexico you have more than 2000 local town or mental police
forces. and a bunch of federal police, army, marines, whatever. and most of the time they are simply not cooperating or actively fighting each other. so you need to type, create one unified national police force on the colombians, and this could one alternative. the second thing is in communities. you need to help the communities. you need to look at why it is often 18, 19 year olds who commit murder for less than $100. that's the going rate for some kids in ciudad juárez. i've talked and these neighbors, to these kids involved with this and they see no future. they see this as an option because they see nothing for them. you have to start the social work in those communities. some of the american money which goes to by black hawk helicopters for the mexican military could be better spent just under give social work
project in these communities. [applause] >> and a third issue i would say is, i mean, we have to look at the drug policy debate, drug policy reform. in 10 years it does america want to give $300 billion more to the cartels? >> two things. first of all, i think from the u.s. perspective anyway, i think that the u.s. government is bringing a knife to a gunfight. i think that we are continue to treat these cartels as the criminal punks. and we vastly underestimate what they are capable of. not just another in the future. i think we underestimate the threat that they pose to us and to our communities. second, i don't believe that the drug war is a priority for our government. the media coverage is erratic and it is very rare you will
find a major, major incident that happened in mexico to wear those of us who follow it regularly our oh, my gosh, i can't believe this happen. you take a look at the front page and it's nowhere to be found. in the state of the union address this year, president obama didn't mention mexico or the drug war once. and we continue to take a look at what's going on on the border as we've got it under control. and i think that the government is doing this is not a big deal. i firmly believe we need to place this closer to the top of our priority list so we can be smarter about allocating money and allocating people. not just throwing, don't just throw money and throw people at the border and that the drug war. that doesn't solve any problem. you have to be smart about it and go through a threat-based priority system and really tried to get a grip on just where the threats are in develop a strategy from there so we have to be smarter about that. >> my name is steve schneider.
i live across the river from reynoso. one of the things that is difficult to understand from this side of the border is that calderón declared in 2006 this war on the cartels, the war on drugs. and yet even as collation during his term in office. so i was wondering if you could elaborate a little bit more on the reasons for his failed policies, or declaration, and where we may be going in the next election in mexico. spent it's a great question, and i think that's going to have to be our last question. sylvia, you want to start off with that much we have one more, great. sylvia, go ahead. >> yeah, we are keeping an eye on the election. pretty much i think anybody is under the assumption that -- very popular, very well-liked. but i think some people are also under the misguided notion that there is a possibility of going
back to the old days where there was an inherent agreement between the mexican government and the cartels where the camel what kind of take it easy on them, look the other way and the cartels would stop killing each other or stop killing people. the problem is that the landscape of mexico looks vastly different now than it did in the days. there is no going back? ever since the introduction of the nine, the beheadings, that kind of way of fighting the drug war, the problem was that in the days of the pre, victim had control. ioan is very clear explain how this works in his book. the government was in control of the cartel at that time. now the cartels are in control of the government. there is no benefit to the cartels whatsoever to engage in any sort of agreement. they are in charge. they are making money. why do they want to concede anything to the government? and also, u.s. policy, u.s. drug policy in the way we are fighting the war on this side is
very influential in how mexico does business. so for the mexican government to dramatically change their drug war strategy is going to be looked at very and favorably by washington. that's for better or for worse. it depends on who you ask, but i'm hoping that the new president will maybe explore some alternate strategies because i think that's what the mexican people want because they are exhausted by this war but i don't proceed any kind of dramatic shift. ..
>> and partly it was because he didn't really have control of the government apparatus anymore because of a fragmentation. like i said, i mean, he sends out the federal police, suddenly the federal police are fighting, you know, fighting physically the local state police. so you're fighting all corporations of municipal police having to be arrested because they're working as active hitmen for cartels, not just taking money to turn a blind eye. they're going out kidnapping and killing on behalf of the cartels. so that's the main reason why i felt his security apparatus didn't work. >> thank you. our last question. >> all right. so drug trafficking is a global problem. is there any other policies that have been taking lace in other parts of the world that the u.s. can look at and maybe follow that model to find an end to this problem? >> i can address that. the problem with any drastic change in drug policy is that
there is a united nations convention against drug policy, against drug use and truck trafficking. and roughly -- drug trafficking and countries are signatories to this, and essentially that policy says all signatory states will enact anti-drug policies. there are a few countries that have decriminalized drug use. it's very important to understand the difference between legalization and decriminalization because that gets confused in the media all the time, and a lot of times the terms are used interchangeably. legalizing manager or legalizing drugs -- something or legalizing drugs everything from production or growing the poppies to growing the marijuana to converting it into a drug to distributing it across cross-country, international borders, all of that is completely legalized, etc. decriminalization means that
users are not considered criminals if you are caught. it's, essentially, like getting a traffic ticket. however, the production section of that, the creation of it, the growth of it, that is still considered criminal, people will still get arrested and go to jail. there is not one single country in this entire globe that has legalized drugs, so you hear of portugal, you hear of brazil, mexico, the netherlands, and you say, oh, well, you know, they've legalized marijuana. they vice president. they've decriminalized it -- they haven't. they've decriminalized it. other countries have taken some decriminalization measures n. portugal it's been somewhat successful, but drug use in portugal before that policy was low to start with. mexico decriminalized personal use of almost all drugs, including lsd, not just the four drugs that are being trafficked by the cartels. they decriminalized it about two years ago. what has that accomplished for local drug use in mexico? absolutely nothing. so it depends on that particular country's drug use situation,
what they're hoping to accomplish. they want to go after the big fish, and that's why it was quietly approved, that kind of policy. but right now there is no country in another part of the globe to my knowledge that has taken a drastic step except maybe bolivia. but they're looking to have some kinds of parts of that convention changed, and they actually want to come back into that u.n. convention, so nobody is taking drastic steps on an international level to change that anti-drug stance. >> ioan, a very brief final comment. >> okay. yeah, just like sylvia say, there hasn't been full legalization, i think n these debates about the shortcomings of drug policy the united states, you know, can learn things from what portugal has done, from what holland has done and how they treat often drug addicts not as criminals, but as people with a health problem and
look at it as a public health problem. >> thank you very much. [applause] >> that is a standing ovation as it gets at the book festival. that's wonderful. i want to thank sylvia and ioan for their wonderful books and their conversation today. thank you. [applause] and, please, go to the signing tent to purchase these book. these books. [inaudible conversations] >> and you've been watching sylvia longmire and ioan grillo
talking about their books here at the 16th annual texas book festival. and now we want to get your reaction to what you just heard on this last author panel. 202-624-111 for those of you in the east and central time zones. 202-624-1115 if you live in the mountain and pacific time zones, and you can send us a tweet. we'll read those as well, twitter.com/booktv is our twitter address if you have a reaction to what you just heard on this author panel. and we're going to go right to your calls, and we're going to begin with sonoma, california. you are on booktv. what'd you think of that panel? >> caller: um, it was very interesting, mr. slen, and i would like to ask a question and to make a statement. i'd like to know where the cia in all of this and be why aren't they giving us more good
information? that's their job. and, number two, my statement would be one of the participants said that there wasn't very much written about this situation. i have read many articles in the "new yorker" magazine which are excellent on this subject, on this very subject, and they go into great detail. so i would urge people to go to the index for the "new yorker" magazine and look up articles on this very subject. thank you so much. >> host: that was a call from sonoma, california. and up next new york city. new york city, what did you think of that panel on the mexican drug cartels? >> caller: yes, good afternoon. good afternoon. >> host: good afternoon. >> caller: yes, sir. i'm originally from el paso, texas, which miss sylvia and
ioan mentioned and currently living in manhattan, new york. and can i was in el paso, texas, i had the privilege to be able to go down there. and i did see a lot more than is publicized, a lot more crime, a lot more spillover as they called it. and i do compliment them and send them blessings on their very intellectual explanations which, you know, gosh, my ideas -- i already knew a lot about the mess going on over there, but now i really know more about it which most people are not aware of the seriousness. and my concern is we are so informed about iraq, iran, yes, and we have our troops over there. people need to realize this is serious. this is drugs, this is crime. seem are being killed, innocent people every day -- >> host: caller, can you tell us your experience in el paso? what have you seen change in that city because of the drug
issue? >> caller: oh, a lot more aggression, a lot more -- i don't feel as safe as i used to. that's even ten years ago. everything has changed, and i think why is obama in the iraq, why is he not addressing -- it is terrorism. why doesn't he address this very serious problem? it's in the u.s. even though, yes, it is el paso, texas, i call it third world country usa. unfortunately. people have to see, if people in america do not know how much the poverty is there, how much danger is there, i don't know if they keep it quiet for whatever conveniences of, you know, the press or commerce, but it is dangerous there. and it's maybe kept, um, swept under the rug. i'm not sure what it is. but my -- >> host: all right. let's leave it there, caller. thank you very much for calling in. we're going to go to the other coast, and that's astoria, oregon.
astoria, you're on booktv on c-span2. >> caller: hi. excellent panel. >> host: hi. >> caller: some of the questions that came to my mind in listening to the panelists speak, ms. longmire mentioned that mexico was really worried about the possibility of our perceiving the drug situation down there as a terrorist activity. and, um, why don't we just bring that very threat to the table? um, these people are -- >> host: what do you mean by that? what do you mean by that? >> caller: by considering the drug trafficking situation to be a form of terrorism. i think it's really naive for them, for anybody to assume that our enemies could not be involved in it. somehow supporting those groups and being part of the deal. and why not say, look, you need to get control of this, or we will come down there and hunt those people down. we've certainly done it in
iraq -- >> host: so you'd be supportive -- so, caller, you'd be supportive if u.s. troops went into mexico to help curb this situation? >> caller: i would much rather see u.s. troops on the border to secure the border than to see them going in. but as a kind of bargaining chip and motivator to the mexican government to get control of the situation themselves, i think it might be a good thing to bring up. another point that came to my mind is there is so much, um, so much propaganda -- well, i don't know if propaganda's the right word, but there's so much talk here in the united states about legalizing these drugs and how americans would start growing pot and producing, um, selling to the public. why are we even getting into that? what makes them think that these people who don't mind cutting off heads to support their own trade would not be as aggressive
in preventing americans from getting in on their gain, as it were? >> host: all right, caller, thank you very much. a twitter comment from neorepublican, my mayor bloomberg smoked pot, so have my governors cuomo and president obama but don't you do it, is his comment. another call, we're in austin, texas. in about two and a half hours drive there here is houston, texas. houston, you're on booktv. what did you think of the mexican drug cartel panel? >> caller: i thought it was great. if we would -- [inaudible] the book station all day, every day, i believe we'd have a much better country. now let's get into the drugs. everybody's saying it's not in the papers. nobody talks. but what does that mean? big money makes no noise.
come on. these cartels are putting millions in our congressmen's pockets, and nobody's -- and then there's naive or -- [inaudible] supreme court just ruled where they could give all this secret money. you don't think the cartels aren't giving these congressmen? there's a reason you don't hear nothing. thank you. >> host: all right, houston, thank you for that call. three more panels coming up this afternoon on booktv. our live coverage from the texas book festival. there's a panel on nonfiction be up next in about 20 minutes or so, and then a panel on the arab spring. robin wright will be on that panel, "rock the casbah" is her most recent book on foreign policy and the middle east, and then adam winkler on gunfight, the battle over the second amendment. he will conclude our coverage today on booktv. now, after the arab spring we're
going to give you a chance to respond to that, too, what you heard on the panel. we'll do an open phone segment. but right now we're talking about the mexican drug cartel panel you just heard. the next call comes from idaho. idaho, good afternoon. please, go ahead with your comment. >> caller: hi, how you doing? i'm calling from idaho, and i attend idaho state university, and i just think that on the college level the students are really blind on how they can just go out and buy pot or buy all sorts of drugs and not think about the consequences of where the drugs are coming from and where their money is going. and i think that our students at the college level should be more educated on the effects of them buying these drugs. so, i mean, it's just ridiculous. like, nobody talks about that really around here: and everybody just turns a blind eye
because we're so far up north, we don't care about the mexican drug war or anything and how it effects us, but it really does effect us in a very big way. there's mexican mafia all over this place, and people just don't know about it because they're not well educated. >> host: caller, what did you think about one of the questioners who asked whether or not the legalization of drugs here in the u.s. would help to curb the current situation? >> caller: um, i believe that it would curb the current situation, at least on the marijuana level, because we grow wonderful produce up in the united -- especially in this region, and by legal hissing it -- legalizing it or decriminalizing marijuana at least we would be able to, by legalizing it we'd be able to help people with medical problems and substitute mexican drugs by substituting it with marijuana grown locally. and i think that would be great
because we shouldn't be giving them $30 billion a year of our money, unfortunately due to marijuana consumptionment -- consumption. >> host: all right, caller, thank you very much. tennessee, florida, you're on -- tampa bay, florida, you're on booktv. what's your reaction? >> caller: hello? >> host: please, go ahead, tampa bay. >> caller: yeah, just a side comment that was sort of danced around on the panel. i see in the news that the zetas are taxing the school teachers in mexico city. okay. if you're moving tons of drugs, you don't need the money to tax schoolteachers. that's a political action. they are taking control. and i see beyond violence and the rest of that the dangers, it's not a matter of the cartels control the government, they're becoming the government of mexico.
we're facing the prospect of a criminal predatory government operating on our southern border. nobody seems to say that out loud, but that's what i see coming. thank you. >> host: thank you for calling in. this is booktv's live coverage from the 16th annual texas book festival in austin, texas. you can see the state capitol right behind me, two blocks up congress avenue from where we are here at the booktv tent. we have time for a few more calls here. palm springs, good afternoon. please, go ahead with your comment. >> caller: hi, peter. excellent panel today. um, i think the solution is a little more simple. um, you can't really run a multibillion dollar organization on cash, and is i'm wondering why the international bankers aren't more involved with cutting off the head of the snake. do you -- i think with all the technology that we have we could certainly put a stop to where they're funneling their profits,
and without involving troops, without involving a lot of law enforcement, we could just do it through banking. >> host: that call was from palm springs. roberts, wisconsin, good afternoon to you from austin. >> caller: well, good afternoon. hey, i want to echo what the guy said earlier. i think booktv in schools would be a great thing. i really think it would get kids interest inside reading more books. you know, we've had the war on drugs and the just say no policies going on since the reagan administration, and it doesn't seem to be working. it seems to be getting worse. so i agree with one of the panelists that we've got to look at a different drug policy here in this country because that one just isn't, doesn't seem to be working. i'm kind of leaning towards, you know, maybe decriminalization of the marijuana thing wouldn't be a bad idea because we've got probably a million people in prison that we're spending to keep them in there for low-level drug offenses, and we could spend that money a lot more wisely somewhere else. just a thought.
>> host: thank you for calling in from roberts, wisconsin. here in texas, beaumont, texas. beaumont, where is beaumont in relation to austin? >> caller: east. >> host: okay. all right. [laughter] go ahead with your comment about the mexican drug cartel panel. >> caller: i think the panelists were excellent. and i, the only comment i really have is i would really love to see all of this information forwarded to every presidential candidate so that they have the information they need to reach out to the people that can give them information, and we can really fight the drug cartels. and protect the borders. >> host: all right. thank you for calling. grants pass, oregon, what are
your thoughts on this, oregon? go ahead. >> caller: yes, good morning. my comment is if you want to get rid of drugs and the drug cartels, get rid of poverty and hopelessness because the more people that are poor, more people are hopeless, the more they tend to, you know, veer towards drug addiction. and that, that would be a good preventive measure, a really good preventive measure. >> host: next call is from houston, texas. houston, you're on booktv. hi. >> caller: hello? >> host: houston, please, go ahead with your comments. >> caller: yes, hello. >> host: houston? is. >> caller: my comment is i think the government needs to do something here in the country to fight the consumers that consume drugs here in the country. mexican -- mexico is not only responsible for the drug cartels, that comes from colombia, peru and ec ecuador ad bolivia.
and they blame everything on mexico. i think what the government needs to do is fight the consumers and the people they sell the drugs here in the country and, also, the people they -- [inaudible] through the mexican cartels. the government has a lot of work to do here in the country instead of making comments to the mexican government. that's my comment. thank you. >> host: all right. thank you sop. we have this -- thank you so much. we have this tweet from tennessee, you have cartels spelled incorrectly on your call-in comments right now. thank you, tennessee. we'll check that, and we'll see if we can get that corrected right away. we have time for two more calls. the first one is from el paso, texas, right on the border. el paso, go ahead with your comments. el paso, are you with us? >> caller: i'd just like to say that -- >> host: please, go ahead. >> caller: -- in response to speaking earlier about el paso,
it is a -- [inaudible] city, and we need to control the consumption of it over here. >> host: and our last call during this open phone segment comes from rochester, minnesota. rochester, what are your thoughts? >> caller: well, thank you, peter slen. you guys are outdoing yourself every program. thank you so much. and the man that talked about the cash deal, the reason the congressmen and the senators are not paying attention to it is because it's money, money, money. the whole thing boils down to money. thank you so much, peter. >> host: all right, rochester, thank you. thanks to all the callers who called in. have another chance to express your views after the arab spring panel. and that's at about 4 p.m. eastern time. by the way, our entire package today reairs tonight in our overnight on booktv on c-span2. 2 a.m. eastern time is when this reair will beginment so you can
watch -- begin. so you can watch all of today's live coverage coverage from text at 2 p.m. so in just a minute the panel on nonfiction will be starting, and we'll bring that to you live. we'll be right back. >> when i got into and started selling my books, every person i worked with i had a rejection letter from. which was kind of cool. you'd go into a meeting, oh, we love your stuff, and i'd go, what about this? [laughter] ben mezrich questions the ethics and morality of brilliant people. his account of mark zuckerberg and the creation of facebook was adapted for the screen as "the social network." "bringing down the house" followed a group of mit students who won millions in las vegas, and his latest, "sex on the moon," tracks a possible nasa
astronaut candidate as he steals moon rocks. call, e-mail or tweet ben mezrich sunday, november 6th, at noon eastern on booktv on c-span2. >> we have this book called "the deal from hell." um, what's it about, basically, and why should we care, especially why should people watching us far away in bang gore, maine, portland, maine, utica, new york, why should they care? >> this book talks a lot about the differences between journalism today and journalism when i started. when i got into the journalism, the newspaper business was really largely controlled by families. shot all of them were angels by any means, but they really had kind of a public service mantra that they followed, and it, basically, was no one could ever have put it better than mike cowles who was a leading member
of the family that owned the first newspaper i worked for, "the des moines register". and mike always said the only thing a newspaper really has to worry about is that the public respects it. because if public respects it, you will have readers. and if you have readers, you will have advertisers, and that's the main source of income in revenue for newspapers. so you have to be respected by the public to be in a successful business. and then around the 1960s and the '70s that sort of got turned on its head when the families wanted to get out of the business, and they started selling off their newspapers. and a lot of times they sold them to people who, to corporations that were owned by stockholders, and the people that ran those corporations had a duty to journalism, but they also add a fiduciary duty to stockholders. at first, things looked fine because we all had a lot of money rolling in, and it was
pretty easy to balance those things. but then sometime after september 11th that changed, and we began struggling with revenues. and as we tried to maintain the profit margins which were considerable, we began cutting, and we began diminishing our journalism. and i suspect all of us were a little bit guilty of subordinating the public, the interest of the public to our fiduciary duties to produce the kind of returns that wall street and others expected. and i really think that that kind of led us down this path to where we are today, and in the case of the tribune company, it led them to bankruptcy court and a great institution that was a fixture in here is today an institution in trouble, and i think it has, it's an institution that has -- and all newspapers like it. i don't think people understand the fundamental role that
newspapers play in giving voters and people in a democracy the information and news they need. and they're you under threat to, and i think it's really troubling. it's troubling to me, it's troubling to a lot of people. so everybody, i think, should care about this story not just because it's about me or not because it's about "the chicago tribune" or the l.a. times, but it's about journalism. and that's something that i think is vital to a democratic society. >> though this book is called "the deal from hell," it's really about two deals. the first comes in the year 2000 and involves the purchase by tribune company venerable, chicago-based owner of several dozen very respected television stations and newspapers, its purchase of los angeles-based times mirror company. give us succinctly sort of the economic backdrop at the time, the newspaper industry backdrop and the rag neal for that first
of the two big deals. and if you want to mention a fellow somewhere along the line who became known, i think, as the cereal killer -- that's not serial like john wayne gacy, it's like cereal like cheerios -- [laughter] and smart starts. cereal, tell us a little bit about him and why he was critical to the tactics and strategy in executing this deal. >> well, i think the deal with sam zell was the deal from hell, and the tribune made a stop in purgatory first when it bought times mirror. [laughter] and it was, it was -- you know, basically, the atmosphere at the time was buy or be bought. and everybody, aol and time warner had just merged, and things were going quite well. and so when the tribune decided to buy this, things looked pretty good, the future looked
pretty bright. we paid a lot of money for it, and it was -- and the way the deal was structured is we bought the company even though mark willis, the cereal killer who was the ceo of times mirror -- and, by the way, he got that title, he used to be the co-chairman of general mills where they made all the cereal. [laughter] and the staff of the l.a. times was phenomenal. if staff of the l.a. times would have dope as well at journalism as they did at coming up with nicknames, we wouldn't be talking about this because they did a great job. [laughter] so they nicknamed mark the cereal killer because he came in started right away cutting things, cutting staff. he went and closed new york newsday and, therefore, he got that name. but when the tribune walking it, mark -- bought it, mark willis didn't know. they bought it when he wasn't even looking. it was kind of a nice little back-stabbing drama that played out in a place where they
literally made drama in los angeles. and i think because they were trying to really do the deal in secret, a lot of things that we should have known about that we department know about came back to -- that we didn't know about came back to haunt us later, and the company got in -- the things that we didn't know about like a huge tax case, circulation problems as news bay and circulation fraud, all of these things came back to haunt us and put us into a troubled condition which made us vulnerable to mr. zell. >> you can watch this and other programs online at booktv.org. >> and we are back live in austin, texas. as you can see, a beautiful day here for the texas book festival in downtown austin. about three and a half hours of live coverage on book the on c -- booktv on c-span2 coming up. we're going to have a panel a little later on on the arab
spring and a panel on gun rights. those two are after this next panel on the art of nonfiction. now, there are three authors on this panel. let's just tell you a little bit about them. wendy kaul has a book called "no word for welcome." sharif that roads pitt, a journey to the mecca of black america, and hugh raffles. this panel is just beginning in the booktv tent, this is live coverage from booktv on c-span2. [inaudible conversations] >> all right. hello, ladies and gentlemen. thank you for joining us for this panel. the art of nonfiction. um, i'm george, i'm the director of the maybourne literary nonfiction conference. i both teach and write literary
nonfiction which is, i guess, the reason i've been selected to moderate this panel. let me introduce you to our panelists. on my far right is an a.n.s.w.e.r. ro position at the new school and author of "in amazonia, a natural history," which received the victor turner prize in et know graphic writing. his essays have appeared in best american essays, granta, and o rye on. to his left is wendy kaul. wendy is a recent writer in residence at seattle university, new college of florida be and harbor view medical center. there's others where other institutions and academic places where she's been a writer in residence as well. she's the co-editor of telling true stories, a nonfiction writers eye guide and a translator of mexican poems and short stories which we're going
to talk about today. sharifa rhodes pitt. her work has appeared in the nation, "the boston globe," transition and other periodicals. she has received a landon foundation writing residency fellowship and the writers' award, and she was a fulbright scholar for 2006 to 2007. she's a native texan, educated at harvard. and her book, "harlem is nowhere," is one of the books we're going talk about talking about today. okay, you. let's start with you. we're talking about the tart of nonfiction. so how did you come up with the idea of weigh about insects, for god's sake? [laughter] >> well -- can you hear me okay? okay. well, i wanted to write a book about insects because i didn't know anything about insects, and it seemed like a great opportunity to write. you can't hear me? okay. is that better? okay, great. um, i chose to write a book
about insects because i didn't know anything about them, and it was an opportunity to learn about them. and i like choosing topics like that where the book itself is a form of exploration, you know? you're sort of in the process of learning at the same time you're writing, so i wanted to know injects in general, but the problem that's always preoccupied me which is how to think about different things, you know, things that are different from me. and in some ways insects are about as far away from me as possible. so the hajj was, first, to figure out how to make sense out of something that was so extremely distant from me. >> but you fell in love with it, hugh. you actually, i think, came to recognize and appreciate the insect world in a way that you probably didn't imagine when you asked this story.
tell us about your increasing obsession with insects. >> well, yeah, i'm sort of over it now, but it was kind of an obsession. [laughter] because that problem of trying to understand something that's so different became impossible. i couldn't figure out how to make sense of them, really. so what i did was talk to people who knew around them than i did and people who had spent a lot of time with them and really try to understand what the -- how they make offense of them. so there are people who are artists and poets, scientists and really tried to figure out from them what distant ways the words of, just, you know, dealing with this problem. so that was very fascinating. i think only of the excitement conveyed it to me. yeah, i think so. yeah. >> thanks. wendy? wendy kaul, she's written a
fascinating book, "no word for welcome." and tell us, how did you come up with the idea for this fashion mate facing exproration of. and explore the impact of globalization on mexican villagers. how'd you come up with the idea, and hell -- tell us about that. >> i didn't come to this project as a writer. i came to it as a grassroots organizer which is what i'd been doing my first decade out of college. and toward the late 1990s by was starting to feel as organizers often do at some point in their careers completely burn t out. i wanted to find a community that was different than the commitments i had experience with and seeing what were they doing that made their efforts better for social change
actually work. so through a series of real coincidences, i ended up getting connected to several villages in northern mexico very close to the border, and i was just blown away by the quality of their organizing efforts and how invested people were in protecting and improving their communities. and so i didn't start out with the identity that this would be a book i started out as a personal -- that eventually led to a book. and i do think there's a by in which our book topics choose us as much as we choose them, so i was a little sprite surprised that what i was doing was actually writing a book. >> like you became obsessessed with insects, from reading your book, wendy, it became clear that you became obsessed with your subject. you lived there and how long out
with these folks. talk about immersion journalism, you were living it. living inside the story in many ways. and you became deeply emotionally involved in it, i could tell from your highly emotionally charged. could you talk a little bit in how in doing, live anything a place, -- [inaudible] >> i think the connection was really important, but i also think it both facilitated and impeded the telling in that many of the people i interacted with perceived me as a journalist because that was their only experience, um, of people who interviewed and wrote things. and i learnly wasn't there -- i certainly wasn't trying to be unbiased about this. i had very strong opinions about the story i was following, and
so there is a way in which it was complicated for me to sport what was mier is pension of what was happening and the way et was actually -- [inaudible] and how did the people that lived there feel about it? obviously, i had a much situation in many years than hugh did with his books, i could talk with the subject, and i was dealing with people who were in some ways very far to me and had various cultural consumptions. and i think my sort of increasing obsession with history in the end really benefited the project because it meant i raise really, really happy to do lots of americans that merv came anywhere in print. but it helps me think what would
be the ports of the story that i knew i was going to have to leave out. but on the hebb side which was a challenge for me was that i talked to so many more people than appeared in the book. i because i was writing about a culture that really values the collective over the individual this some ways, some of the people who appear in my book were a little disturbed that i just told their our. and so when it came down to the final stages of to project there were a few people i had included in the book that didn't want to be in the book, and then there were oh people who were kind of my understooding that, you know, for a u.s. audience e went to think about how individuals react, not about how well communities interact. >> thank you. srari, the a.
the word "harlem" con conjures up many imgarages in our mind. we could go on and on with this i'm courteous, how did you come up with the name, "harlem is nowhere"? and how did the whole idea develop? i now you -- when we talked earlier, you mentioned you hadn't really set out to do a work. it sort of evolveses. >> sure. >> thank you. well, the title harlem is nowhere is actually a borrowed title. it's the title. of a ralph emerson's cay that was not published until 1964, and he's the author of "insid bl man. and he was commissioned to write an's cay about a free psych yacht withic clip that existed in hard vem and as par of the
this essay it starts out as this panoramic survey of life in harlem streets, and in one instance he'll say if you ask someone how they are, i'll say, oh, man, i'm nowhere with. and that became the source for his identity l. for some of my own reasons. first, it's so evocative and it's just a riddle. but i was also thinking about a place that carries on so much peating and to live in a place like that where the physical landscape is actually overwhelmed by stories in rhode island -- in history. and that then, also, the beginning of this book came about for me because when i did arrive at hard them in 2002, i
found myself completely overwhelmed by those stories and histories just as a matter of daily life. when i walked out to the street corner, that conversation evolved into my neighbor telling me of their days as a youngster in georgia. and so at any given moment i felt like i was in the middle of a story. or in the middle of the -- history. the history of, um, of after the civil war even, something that would seem so remote is quite alive on people's lips. and so as a person that's interested in history, i was very peeked. right this really -- so that was what started me out writing about harlem and eventually led
to the book. >> and one of the things we talked about earlier which i found fascinate mating, i'm like most nonvictim writers who are now on a mission. weil to and -- most nonfiction writers want to write about a place, about the characters that inhabit that place. i found it fascinating that you said that wasn't at all the case with you, that for you it was about live anything a place -- living in a place and be taking stock of the place. and if a story evolved, fine. i know you spent some time in be new orleans, and people would ask you what project are you working on, and you would say, aisle not, i'm living here. [laughter] that a radically different approach than most nonfiction writers take.
can you tell me why you take that approach and how it turns you? >> >> in the first instance, i was just someone what wanted to be a writer and in my head i was trying too write a novel about texas that will probably never see the light of day. [laughter] and, i mean, it actually happened to me here as i was walking around, but sometimes wowr -- sometimes it works. something has to happen to you there. and i think for me the writing process is very personal in that it's almost a sense of being commanded to do the work. um, and oftentimes i'm very resistant to that command,. [laughter] so it takes a little while before i will do my duty. the people who surrounded me and the history of my place and the
engagement was really part of that plan. but i'd grown up reading looks from the important people and movements that came out of that place. so arriving there with these stories and histories in my head and being confronted with the ones of the people who are new -- does that answer your question? >> it does. i'm going to wait for a command. moment of silence, b please. [laughter] >> you. let's talk a little bit about form and structure since we're talking about the art of narrative nonfiction. some of you may not even consider artist. everyone up here, i can guarantee you, are literary arttists. much like most conventional nonfiction writers, their form is anything but lineal.
let me fin by asking you what promised thal betting -- >> that's so vast, you know? that's just so unmanageable. and it was partly a way to make fun of the idea of an encyclopedia, the idea you can just include all knowledge within the bounds of the book. and insects just seemed to disprove the possibility of joe owing, rg this idea that you can really know something about and so they -- >> okay. >> they really provoked that, right? that really provokes that --
sorry, let me try to focus a little. they, what i really wanted to try to work with, some restraints. so i do think of it as a literary enterprise. perhaps one of the main dictionaries is you -- >> [inaudible] [inaudible] >> [inaudible] >> maybe you'll more of a sense of accountability to the people you work with. a lot of what i'm saying and wendy and sharifa, too, most people read what you write. when i write about seem, i always show them what i've written and always have some kind of collaboration. so as much as i be, so this that
soans you're also really important -- i mean, i write in very detailed ways about people's lives. but it's a selective process as well because, you know, it's my version of their lives, and i try to do it in a way that i'd be happy if somebody was writing about me in that way. i don't think somebody's going to read anything shah's going to maybe them uncomfortable. a lot of people cede it and say, this is a tremendous responsibility. so that's maybe one key difference twean fiction and nonconviction. and be an alpha debt bettal, you know, i have to think about different months and chapters. different kinds of styles. you can think about pasting, and it becomes very much about crafting this, crafting this, i guess, literary form. yeah. >> but if you're looking for an
encyclopedia of insects that begins with ants and progresses all the way through, you're not going to fipped it. essays and snippets of history and science, my philosophy, anthropolg, pop culture into this story of insects. and your imagination is, i found, both beguiling and entertaining. did you set out to write this in this sort of, in this weaving together all of these disseparate elements from the beginning, or did it evolve? how did it happen? >> no, the whole thing really evolved b i i mean it, in some ways i feel like the book is written by a subject. it has just some kind of -- a little more confusing, maybe.
but, you know, they become this very powerful way to enter into the world and to look at the world. and the way i thought about the the -- [inaudible] it's be kind of like a distillation of many, many different things, so i think that was partly how that happened. yeah. >> wendy, i have the same -- we're talking now about form and structure. wendy's approach, i thought, was also quite novel. she sort of was across between what we call creative nonfiction which is more eye-centered where the eye character play an important role. the first person narrater. she had that. then she was also the distance journalist, someone who was gathering her facts is details and all of that method col it
felt like you were a documenttarian, and i wonder if you could talk a little bit about the structure and form you used in putting together your remarkable tale. >> well, i appreciate you as seeing it between creative nonfiction and journalism because you could say exactly the same thing by saying, well, you don't learn enough about narrater for it to be memoir or creative nonfiction, and it is knot unbiased enough to be journalism. and it's true, the book doesn't fit into either one of those containers. and i do agree with hugh, a book is written by its subject. and two things about the culture which is the part of mexico i'm writing about that really struck me and seemed crucial to convey in the book. one, that your individual story is not the most important thing, that the story of your community and your home place and all of the people who are part of it is
important. and, two, that, um, time is not completely linear, you know? people would say to yes when i would ask about two years ago. they'd say, well, reneed to start here and make a really impressive sort of spiral set of links to what had happened then to what was happening this up -- this a couple of years ago. it meant that i had a lot of research to do to figure out all of the things that had happened in the interim. but it also made me realize that people are experiencing history in a different way than i do something brown up in a hairly ahistorical was sort of what i knew about, and what happened in history classes department really concern me.
so when it came down to actually hitting the book, i needed to convey the process of me, the narrater, or say the three primary characters of my book. and i also needed to convey the importance of the time period i was covering which was 1997 to 2008. it was a short window, but there are pictures of when the spanish people showed up or when something else happened 5,000 years ago. and trying to figure out how to we've those things together into a narrative that made any kind of sense was an interesting challenge. and i think i've always had trouble with plot and not being able to think of a traditional
story arc the way a traditional writer does. it contributes to me to wipe out this story in a linear way. >> you say in the book itself -- how do you pronounce it? in the form of a book. you fashioned your map of this place from the form of your book. so in some way ways, you see yourself as a cartographer. could you explain that both mapping the stories, thinking about the story and developing it. >> well, one of the things that i found really fascinating about the isthmus is people have been mapping it as long as people have lived in. but social security a huge tip x partly that's because it was the orientation of the people who
lived there. they tended to draw maps more than they wrote stories because most of the languages there were not written, although the very first written language in the americas is from this part of mexico. but most of the cultures, um, to the extent that they had written documents or printed documents, drawn documents, they were maps. and because there's been so many colonial interests in this area, the british, the french, the spanish, all those people coming in and exploring and one of the things i found over and over is people would draw me a map. and i started to direct cheese maps. i found them really fashion iting, i and i have constant, and one of the ways i my -- because i never know which way is north until i actually sit down and figure it out and ask
somebody. so i have my own little maps, and i think if this project had come into my life ten years later it could probably be -- so trying to recreate this world that really functions in multiple dimensions for the people who lived it into a linear narrative was one of the most exciting and difficult aspects of the book process. >> thank you. sharifa, reviewers trying to describe your book have struggles. you know, categorizing a look -- one viewer called it part memoir, part history, part -- [inaudible] another described it as a moving love letter to arkansas dem. >> george asked me this question this morning. i have to think about that because i think when you're inside of something and, you
know, the one that's sat down to do it, you're not thinking at all about general are es -- genres, and it's very much the critic's job to try to communicate what is this thing. and the fact that so many viewers -- i mean, there's many different ways that people have tried to bobble together descriptions. and i'm just trying to keep it simple, right i was always drawn to essays, and the essay as a form is a really old form, and it incomes, so much, from french, to attempt. and i thinks the goal as marrily an attempt to try to -- merrily describe something gives you a lot of work. this happens to be an essay that's 300 pages, but it's still within the, that genre of smack
that is quite capacious and can take in a lot of different imperatives, right? so it can tell some of that american story when it's not necessity -- necessary. but more than anything i think it also allows for different types of voices. times you can be a poet in an's essay, sometimes you can a polemicist. i guess another thing i really loved over the years just reading about what is this thing i'm trying to do. i don't remember the author, but he talk of the's cayist who speaks only for herself. and i think that because a little differently from wendy and hugh, i don't know that i disagree with the idea of the subject writes the book.
borne of my own obsessions and ways of looking at the world, intersecting with things that i've met in the world, and, um, there is a question of responsibility especially i consider -- there's a great question of responsibility when you're writing histories of people who are often misrepresented by history. um, and also writing about a place that has been, whose story has been told many, many, many times. minnesota plrp flsh. ..
>> it's one chapter in particular. it's the second chapter of the book called rivals, and it tells the story of my arrival into harlem and the story of some of the arrivals of people around me, and the historical moment of the great migration and transformation of harlem into a black neighborhood and it continues for 20 years and a decade beyond that of people rising. the way i enter the chapter is not through my story of the stories of my neighbors' or historical figures', but enter it on the back of a fictional character who arrives from california by train and then another one from the south. i thought about it like bringing
them on stage, like the historical stage because my own entrance into harlem was as a reader, someone in my high school library looking at social books from social documents and then reading novels by nela larson and gene tumor, and all the works were some of my first ideas about this place, so i thought about those characters as individual people in this neighborhood sort of first populated by those people in my head. talking about it earlier, i was just thinking, like, when we read novels, that's how we experience them for the span of 400 pages. you get involved in the lives of of the people, and the novels is the writing of the arrivals, and there's so many novels from the renaissance with a scene of a moment of arrival, and i wanted to both illustrate the
prevalence of that moment as the primal scene for the neighborhood and history and give the reader a taste of my own experience with that, and then, of course, it's a great reading list anyone who was curious could then dive in further and say, well, who is this character, pinky, from the story and so on, 10 it was just something that made sense completely for my experience of the work. >> yes, and let me have a follow-up question. it's interesting you ended up writing a nonfiction book because your background was in film making and play wrighting, and so how did film making and playwrighting play into your work as a nonfiction writer? >> two things. those were things running simultaneously with my interest in writing essays. even in college, i was set on writing essays, not memoirs, and
they were teaching it heavy, and i was rebelling against the teacher because i thought i was 21 without a memoir to tell, but i was interested in looking at the world and looking to write from that perspective, 10 the playwright is specific with one teacher i studied with a lot. we had to read ato the l's -- aristotle's pieces before anything. for a long time after i always read the poetic before anything just to think about structure, even if it's a nontraditional structure, it has to have a shape, and the filming this is along similar, more technical ideas, but maybe the most important thing is the moment i stopped making films. i made them in high school, and it's what i thought what i wanted to do in high school and
college, and then it was time to make the last film for college, i said i'm burnt out. i was trying to make a film like a writer in a room by myself, and at the time, it was not easy because the cameras are heavier than i could manage, and i was making films by myself with a subject which sounds like it's not the right idea at all because you need a lot of people to make a film, but it was kind of that moment when i realized my temperament was not a filmmaker, but then i was also studied with filmmakers who were schooled in a nontraditional form and others based in boston, and so there was very much an idea of the their -- narrator's presence of what they were looking at, and i carry that into nonfiction, and your presence does affect what's
happening, and similarly with writing. >> thank you. wendy, i have a question for you. before you were a writer, you were a grass roots organizer. you were a translater, spanish translator of poetry and short stories, and i'm curious, how did your background in grass roots organizes and translation, how has that shaped and defined your work, particularly, your latest book. >> i should say that the sort of trajectory was grass roots organizer, which thanks to president obama, i no longer have to explain what that is because that was his first profession. no one knew what organizers did until obama was president, and i did that, and then i moved over to writing really as an attempt to answer some of the questions that working as an organizer raised for me in terms of what makes people set aside short term personal interest and think about collective long term
interest. what motivates people to do that and others shy away from doing that. that was really the question that drove what led to the book, "no word for welcome," and then i actually got into translation much later, and i did that as -- it started, actually, with a simple functional question which is how do i render in english all this dialogue that happens in spanish in a way that is fair, that there's literal translation, you know, what did they say, but there's all these other layers of what is the subtext of what they're saying that, you know, for example, they would make a reference to an event happening 700 years ago knowing everyone in the audience knows that event and the cultural implications of that event, but one reading this book in texas or seattle, washington, is not going to know about this particular event that happened seven centuries ago, and so i had to figure out how to include that context without
misrepresenting the dialogue, and that got me interested in translation as a more literary and cultural pursuit rather than just a technical pursuit, and then the other aspect of it was i started translating into english some of the poetry and short stories and short histories from this region of mexico as part of my research process to have a sense of what was the history, and because it was the first language to be written down in the americas several thousand years ago, they have a long and rich literary history even though their language has been lost, and now they use a transliterated alphabet, translit from spanish. there's a sense of written culture, and so i think that one of the ways that translation has impacted my writing is that one, i've realized what a complex endeavor translation is, and
also there's a way in which, and anyone who is multilingual knows this, you have access to such a richer vocabulary of metaphor because you take one language that can be cliche and translate it into another language you speak, and it's a fresh metaphor, so i ended up using that little trick a lot in my writing. >> a follow-up, wendy. you spent a lot of time in writer's colonies over the last decade. being swirling around, i don't know if anybody in the room spent time in writer's colonies, but they are interested in knowing how is that time, the time you spent working on various people with literature, how did your time in a writer's colony shape and define your own work. who did you hang out with? i think you told me you were drawn to a group that people might be surprised to hear
about. >> i ended up spending a lot of time, not necessarily writer's colonies, but artists' colonies and having come from grass roots organization, i was used to working on shoe string budgets, and then i was a freelance writer and editor and discovered a profession that is more poorly paid and work -- and one of the great benefits is there's places you can go, they feed you, you have a place to stay, and it's free. you are not making money, but you're not spending any either. when i spent time in places that had people, creative in other media, composers, people doing stage productions, even poets, other writers, particularly visual artists, sculptors and painters, talking about them how they solved problems in their work, how they remitted some --
represented their experience in their creative medium was really educational to me, and i found myself seeking out that experience more. one talks about how there's no difference between writing a novel and making a table. they are both equally complex activities in order to get a book that works or a table that works, and so that was really what i found in talking to people producing physical objects, not just producing words on a page. if they had a certain set of problems they had to solve and the ways they had solved them, i could sometimes apply it in writing. >> one of the things i find fascinating in your work is an anthropologist who writes really, really well, and that bothers me because not many write well. frankly, i thought it was interesting, the most interesting thing to me is you said you wanted to push the generas, and provide a lot of
variety, and you wanted, also, to make -- to embrace your colleagues in anthropoling, and you were surprised you succeeded because your book stretches the boundaries of study; right? they loved the book my question is what is -- why did you have this inspiration to push the boundaries of this genera, nonfiction, and provide the sort of tapestry about insects that's personal and also extremely illuminating about the insect world. >> i'm not going to say i'm so right; right? >> well, you can. >> but i don't think it's true,
but it's, you know, i'm supposed to write, and it's a diverse field, and there's people who they writing seriously and think about it, and there's many people who write in experimental ways. it's an interesting field, and yeah, i really do, but the struggles for me is writing for multiple audiences and write something which was scholarly and serious in that sense, but was at the same time readable and pleasurable for people. there's something that people could read and people would -- you know, we read with people who have different ways of reading, i suppose, not just different interests, but different ways of reading and very different, yeah, just different reading habits. you know, people read for different things, and they are
used for different things, and that's a struggle. the first book i wrote was published by university press and mostly had pretty much largely had a university audience. this was with a trade press, and so i knew the audience was different, but i wanted to write the same book. i didn't write a different book because of 245, but that created the challenge of figuring out how to write the same book that a wider group of people would read, and i took that really as primarily a narrative problem. you know, one of the same ideas to be there, but i wanted people to be very, very engaged with the book and to be a book that people really, reallimented to read -- really wanted to read, so there's a lot of theoretical experience, but it's not for granted. people who read the book don't realize they are reading theory, which is the best way to read theory because if you read it any other way, it's an
unpleasant experience for most people, but it has been, you know, i think it's pretty generous. they have been receptive to it, and i think they've liked the sense it's challenging. it's an open genera. the writing is field work really, and people are very interested in what seems to be experimental forms in trying to think about what implications of those are and how you work with them. i think the book is experimental. >> let me follow-up with that. i mean, all three of your work is experimental, innovative, and imaginative. you, i'm curious, why is it that it's experimental, but not in nonfiction. it's not expect the. >> yeah, that's a good question. i'm not sure i have the answer. i think perhaps the -- perhaps nonfiction people have a more,
in general, and i'm not including the people here, but people have a more limited sense of what story telling 1, and they perhaps also have an intent. i think they often think they are teaching people something, telling people something about the world. i'm not, i can't speak for might anybody else here, and i teach as well, but i don't lecture. i teach. i try to teach in a very -- an environment in which students develop their own ways as coming to material, understanding material, making sense of it, and it's -- it's clicheed at this point, but it's like raising a set of questions and having people work their way through them. writing nonfiction is like that, and i don't think people figure out very much and take very much away when you tell them what to think, so, you know, fiction is a -- tends to be a very open-ended form. people go into it with the expectation that they are going to be struggling with maybe language, getting into the life of characters, this kind of
thing, and i like to think of nonfiction of having that capacity as well, and it's -- yeah, i guess it's true of opportunity. one way it bothers me is it's become formulaic in the way the stories are structured, and i think we've become used to hearing formulas in how we talk both people, structure narratives, the way there's always a person that leads us through a particular story, and that opens up to a larger world, all these conventions we are set on. yes, maybe this is the way to shake it up a little bit, yeah. >> queen di, explore -- wendy, explore this a little bit. why do you think experimentation is expected in fiction, but not in nonfiction >> i'm not sure that it is discouraged or not.
i think it feels that way, and part of me thinks it is isolated from each other. it's interesting my colleagues who write memoir only read memoir, and my colleague with strong backgrounds in journalism tend to apply the rules and ethics and sort of rigor of journalism to all the nonfiction they read whether that's inimportant or not, and when i look at different kinds of nonfictionally people who come from different kinds of writing, play writing, journalism, fiction, nonfiction, and when they write a piece of general nonfishings, they have different works because of the traditions they draw on, but i think it's so interesting, and i've seen this in my work as a consulting editor that there is expected to
be answers for how nonfiction should be at the end, and that's ridiculous. there's right answers depending on the material, the authors background and intent and goals, and yet i think that there's a real isolation among the sub generas of fiction, and if we read and appreciated everything, there's a huge amount of experimentation going on. >> the same question. you have broken the boundaries of narrative nonfiction. why do you suppose that experimentation is expected in fiction and not so much at least in nonfiction? >> i don't know how to answer the question about what people expect or don't expect, but i can think about how i started working and two of the books i talk about the most when people asked me what helped me get started on the book are novels, but they are quite unconventional novels, and one
is "sleepless nights" a beautiful novel of 5 woman in new york related to her personal life, takes a very strange shape, gives a lot of space to play with, and also the writer, the german writer, when i first read his work out of college, it gave me the sense of extraordinary possibility, and he, himself, i think was uncomfortable with even the genera of being called a novelist. he called himself a writer, prose fiction, which is unwieldy, but i think a lot lately about poetry, i don't write it, but i read a fair amount, and think about it a lot because i'm a person who works with history and research, and when i was done with the book, i felt a physical sense i was dragging a library on my back with the weight of sorting through so many facts, and it was feeling heavy, and i think about poetry and the lightness of that and the buoyancy and poets incorporate a lot of history into any given work, but
the sense -- there's sort of a sense of play and not so much where's the footnote for that, and did you get permission from that person to tell what you saw when you were staring at them, which is how i work. i have footnotes and sometimes there's a question of per permission, but usually now, and so i feel like a poet who writes long things and is not subject to some of the structures of the genera, so -- >> very ill liewl nates. ladies and gentlemen, we have time for questions. please come up to the front if you have some questions. any questions? pardon me? >> [inaudible] >> okay. i'm surprised there are no questions. one of the things i was hoping this would do is an exchange between our audience -- okay, can you go up to the front.
can you bring the microphone to them? sorry. you'll have to come up. thank you. >> how do you come to the place to answer the question who cares 1234 >> yeah, who cares. funny you say that. that's what my filmmaker teachers told me, who cares? any creative person sitting down to write the first answer to that is i care, you know? any time -- my mother is sitting here and she's an artist, and i remember from a young age being told that when you make something, it has a life of its own, and sort of, there's a moment when you release it, and certainly, that moment feels quite extended when you talk about your book as we all are, but in real life, this thing has a life of its own, and i think people come to it based on their own passions and there's a moment of contact there just like you do any time you read a book, and certainly there's moments when we are creating that it's like why am i doing
this, you know? just to give you another point of view on that, i was meant to start a book project about haiti in january of 2010, and i was going to be traveling there when the earthquake happened, and so that was a bhoament -- moment when i had a who cares question, what is a book for in a moment when people's lives have been destroyed. even now i'm not completely settle on 2, but -- it, but to work back to the point where my going to that place seems even necessary or helpful or useful for anything other than my own curiosity and what's the point of that? it's not a settled question, and i think at any point in a process, there's different answers, you know? >> well, i guess you have moments of self-doubt, but i often don't really -- usually don't worry about that question. the moment the book is published, and then you think, oh, god, is anybody going to read this? then, you know, as time goes on,
you realize people read it, it does something for them, and this morning somebody just out of the blue sent me a poem they wrote about the book. you know, it's really, it's just great; right? it was a great poem. i don't know, i feel like i should read it to you, i'm not going to, but stuff like that happens, and then you know there's an audience of people who read stuff, who read what you write, and you care, so, yeah, i guess i just have confidence that people do, but that's not a satisfactory answer, i know, but you asked so that's my response. >> i'm not sure there is a satisfactory answer, and i think working for a decade as a grass roots organizer, i was used to putting a lot of time into this question in terms of putting time into social issues that seems like not many people did care about, and finding a small number of people, even one individual who cares was hugely
beneficial, you know, and hugely inspiring, and i think i face the question or choose to face the question about who cares more in the form of so what, and i do that really kind of at the paragraph and chapter level as i write when what's the point of this piece of writing, or is the point of this piece of writing really just to allow me to work out something in my own mind, and it doesn't actually go into the finished piece of writing, so i think that can be the who cares, so what question is a functional question for you as you work on a piece, but i also think that you can let it paralyze yourself, and you have to avoid that. >> all i add is it's not just the end of the book that people start to see it. you're constantly -- i'm talking to people about it, reading pieces of it, showing bits to people constantly throughout the process of writing a book so you get a sense of whether you write something meaningful to people and has significance or not, you know, throughout the whole process.
>> question for mr. raffles regarding anthropology actually. you mentioned insects are sort of constrained for you or insects provided a constraint, a topical constraint. >> yeah. >> in what way was it a con straint as an anthropologist, and in the sense what, perhaps did you learn about studying people maybe through the constraint of, you know, you can't obviously interview insects, so it's just indirectly. [laughter] so could you elaborate on how you see it as anthropology? >> it was in a way i didn't expect in which it was relationships between people and insects, and then that became a way to think, you know, i feel like the whole world is in the book, you know? it's become a whole like just a way into the very, sometimes very big questions, but it was
always, always sort of pitched at that, that level of very close relationships between people and these insects they might know about, so in that sense, i think it became very anthropology, and the constraint, yeah, constraining, but they were provoking too. >> thank you. >> any other questions 1234 please come up to the mic. >> hi, i have two questions. one, i'll start with a comment. i'm a filmmaker who is writing about where i'm from, so you've just helped me find a way in to kind of merge all the stuff that i am, and so i can't wait to read your books. my question is do you think you'll go back to making films, and for wendy, also, being an
activists and having -- i'm from south south africa, so you can't not be an activist, and i'm wondering how do you reconcile being activist and writer or in your head, are you always an activist? thank you. >> the quick answer on the film making question is that so excited about like different technologies and lightweight cameras because -- [laughter] i was always overwhelmed by the heavy film cameras, and there's a lot atonmy that comes from that. it's not something that's bubbling to the surface now. having worked in a lot of generas, and experiencing art forms, i think an idea comes with its form attached to it, and sometimes things are like this is absolutely a film, this is a dance, that's a collaboration with the installation artists, you know, so there's other things i want to do, definitely. >> wendy? >> so that's a really good question. i think it would be pretentious
for me to say i'm always an activist as i'm writing because the truth is, you know, writing is in some ways a hugely self-centered thing to spend one's time doing because you put some hours in, and maybe you share it with a signal group of readers, your writing group, people you trade work with, but you're communicating with a tiny audience until late in the process, whean i think about the day-to-day rigor of being an organizer, and even in the united states let alone most of the world, it's much harder work, and i honestly felt that -- i wasn't really extroverted and socially oriented enough to be such a good organizeer, and i turn to writing as a secondary pursuit because i didn't have the grit to keep working as an organizer, and i think it's wildly pretentious to say i'm always an
acts vies as i sit in a room write, follow people, typing what they say and translate ling it, but i believe what i do is socially engage and it's what i have to contribute, and if we each think about what do we want, whatever it is, to be different in the wocialtiond and what skill set can we bring that is different than that, that's a way to think about it other than oh, we have to go to protests because that's not how most of us are wired. >> two quick things, ladies and gentlemen, first, if you're interested in immersing yourself in a further discussion of experimentation and narrative nonfiction, come to the literary nonfiction conference put on by the university of north texas. second, these three writers invested a great deal of their time, life, in creating these three great books. please buy them. they are at the signing tent immediately following this session, and let's have a big round of applause for them.
[applause] [inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations] >> this is book tv on c-span 2's live coverage of 16th annual texas book festival held here in the capital city of austin texas. now, in about a half hour or so, the next panel starts, and it's a panel on the arab spring, and several different guests will be joining us for that and we'll carry that to you live. now, we're pleased to be joined here in austin by deva, the author of several books, the most recent is "a more perfect
heaven" who was coperson cues? >> the person who turned the universe inside out instead of believing as everyone did any his time that the earth was the immobile sender of the universe. he said no, it spins around and goes around the sun every year. that's a crazy idea. >> this is the 16th century? >> early 16th century. >> how revolutionary was it? >> he was afraid to publish for many decades because he said he'd be laughed at, but he also feared that people might use sections of the bible and twist those to the appropriateness to condemn him. there's parts of the bible that rely on facts that the earth seems not to be moving. it really doesn't seem to be moving, does it? so he was afraid about the book of joshua, for example.
if the sun 1 at the ender and doesn't move, instead of the earth, why did joshua have to tell the sun to standstill? >> where was he born and raised? >> in poland, but at the time it was called old prussia. everybody spoke german. >> what was his education? >> tremendous amounts of education. his uncle was in the church and became a bishop and had interest and money in educating this man. he went to university, and then he was sent to italy, twice -- once for law school, and then to go to medical school, so he could be the personal physician to the bishop. >> so he was very catholic? >> he was catholic working for the catholic church, and he
still had this idea which people assume is anticatholic because later, galileo got in trouble for defending him. >> so, how did he develop this theory? >> he didn't say. he never tells anybody what gave him the idea to try that, but the minute he tried it, he saw that the order of the planets made sense. with the earth in the center, people were not really sure which planets came where, which were before and after the sun. once the sun was in the center, he lined them up according to their speed, and that must have struck him with a force of a devine revolution, and he felt -- he not only had a better map which was all he was trying to achieve, but he had the actual construction of the universe which nobody was supposed to figure out at that time.
that was available only by divine revelation. >> did he write it down? >> he wrote a long letter to one or two friends, just outlining the theory and telling them that he was at work on a big book in which he would explain everything, all the maps, all the background, and then decades went by, the book didn't appear, and people were wondering whatever happened to him. >> who is reticus? >> a young german genius who heard about the work and took a 500-mile dangerous journey to find him and talk him into publishing it, and by this time he arrived in the catholic die cease, lutherans were banned from the diocese. he came from martin luther's own university, so he was an illegal
alien, and somehow the two of them united over the idea, and represent stayed for two years and actually left with a copy of the script, took it, got to published, it was that book. it brought galileo to trial by acquisition. if you try to buy it now, it's about $2.5 million. it's an interesting book. >> it brought to galileo to trial? >> yeah. >> what about kopenicus? >> he died just before the book came out. he never knew if people accepted the idea or laughed at him. >> he was he well known during his time? >> well known in his circle of influence, mathematicians knew who he was and what he was working on, and he was considered a very good authority. people appealed to him with questions of astronomy. >> did he question his faith
because of the backlash from the church? >> he definitely seemed to never do that. he didn't really experience backlash from the church because by the time he published, he died, so he didn't have to suffer any of that insult. >> what was going on in the world in the 15th and 16th century while he was alive? >> well, while he was in college, columbus discovered what he thought was the western route to the east inies, and that's exciting, that was another view of the world, and in graduate school, scripts were coming in from italy from all over, arabic scripts, in interesting ideas were coming to life, renaissance thinking, and he went back to poland in the early 1500s and became the first person north of the alps to
translate a greek work into latin. he was the real humanist. then martin luther came along and objected to the church's fail to indulgences and wanted people to be able to interpret the bible their way, and the diocese became paranoid because many around them actually converted, the bishop's converted to lute rannism, and his own bishop, wasn't the uncle anymore, but somebody he knew well, was so worried about this that he passed a law in the town that no lutherans were allowed in, and yet the young man came, and somehow he embraced him. >> published by bloomsbury. what's the cover on the book?
>> it's the most beautiful. there's copernicus in the middle of a diagram that became later known as the copernicus system. blow him is an image of the city where he lived called solenberg, the city of our lady because there was a great cathedral there, and he worked in the cathedral. >> do you see any parallels of what copernicus did in his time and some of the science versus religion, is that a fair comparison to today? >> he was not trying to take on religion. he was a catholic who believed there was a mathematical route to the truth, just as galileo believed. galileo, another catholic felt he did the math, you could understand the june -- universe. today, there's a real fight between science and religion, but we also have astounding
disci's cove ri almost -- discovery almost at the level of copernicus's reversal of the world. the idea that most of the universe consists of something called dark energy. we don't know what it is, but it dwarfs you and me and everything we can see in visible light. we're 4% of the universe. >> i wanted to 1k you also -- ask you also, you were a theater major in college, a writer for the no , "new york times" and you write science books. >> i was a biochemistry major in college, and i have a great love of theater, and this boom contains a play, and i wanted to imagine what happened when reticus arrived to convince him to publish the book. no one knows what he said, so
that meeting's always intrigued me, and i got to make it happen in my head and in the book. >> brand new book, "a more perfect heaven: how copernicus revolutionized the heavens". thank you very much. >> thank you. >> a couple more hours here in austin. coming up in just a few minutes, a panel on the arab spring and then another panel about a book called "gunfight," the battle of the second amendment, all live on booktv here from austin. we'll be right back with our live coverage. [inaudible conversations]
>> you worked in dwircht communities and professors to talk to people about democracy. how did you decide to do your research and why? >> we were trying to understand the relationship between globalization and democracy. the end of the 20th century in the united states was a period of really dramatic change, dramatic political, economic, social, and environmental changes that really, really changed people's lives 234 a lot of ways, and so what we wanted to understand was what is a meaningful democracy? what does it mean for everybody's capacity to make a difference in their communities, to participate in the community, to make things better?
and so the seven of us chose five different communities in north carolina that had experience globalization differently. there were two communities that we chose that are durham county north carolina characterized as landscapes of consumption, the communities that the economy is no , ma'am dated by the -- dominated by the consumption of something whether it's medical services, educational services, or the environment itself, where tourism is vital, and it can also be communities that are dominated by fire -- what we -- there's an acronym, fire, which refers to finance, insurance, and real estate. those are all consumption. we chose two communities characterized as landscapes of production, and those are economies that are dominated by
manufacturing, aggravated agriculture, research based economies, and things like that, and that was in chaddon county north carolina, and then the third economic landscape we looked at was the landscape of the state, and these are communities, maybe state capitols or maybe communities that host a military base, and the fortunes of those communities are really determined by a much broader economic, broader political positions made either in state coal -- capitol or washington, d.c., but looking at the five different communities with these three very different kinds of economic basis, we get to see how people's lives are impacted differently by the broad global economic changes of the late 20th century. >> and so you talked with people about political participation and a lot of people think of
that just as voting, so what were you looking for? what is democratic political participation consist of in >> right. so we're anthropologists, social cultural anthropologists interested in talking to people about what they do. rather than giving too much emphasis on something like voting and saying, well, you know, voting participation and voting is up or down rather than thinking about what people are or are not doing as many other pundits and scholars have done, we went out to talk to people, to sit in their living rooms, to participate in civic organizations, to follow along with nonprofit organizations or community groups or neighborhood watch groups, we sat in all environments, reading the newspaper, following people around, figuring out, well, what are people doing if they are not participating in bowling leagues, anymore, what are they doing?
if they are not voting anymore, is there ways people are working to make their communities better 1234 indeed, we found in spite of pretty dramatic obvious [audience boos] -- obvious calls of -- obstacles that people are working more and more, families have multiple jobs, struggling with things like child care and the political system that's becoming more and more confusing 20-and-a-half -- navigate. in spite of that, we found enormous creative and people do interesting things. >> did you spend a significant amount of time in research? >> well, we had in each of our five communities, we had people there full time for more than 12 months, and with preresearch prior to to the 12 months and follow-up research for the next
six months, and we followed up over the years sense then, but the primary research period was an intense 12 months working more than 40 hour workweeks, you know, whenever public meetings are taking place, whenever a particular controversy happens. we interview people with in-depth interviews. there's numerous times where people you want to interview are busy so you follow them along. okay, you don't have time for an interview, but can i take this road trip with you? they drive from place to place and you talk to them along the way to understand their lives, work, and the things that are important to them. we documented public meetings and followed up public debates about different things, so we got a really sort of on the ground look at the ways that people participate in local govern nans. >> what did you learn about the ways that media affects how
people think about democracy? you read a little bit how they group us into categories, some are apathetic, others angry. does that have an effect on people's participation? g >> it does. when we interviewed people about their -- we did a number of lifetime participation and interviewed people, and we found themes people feel guilty about not participating more than they do. they are sometimes afraid of participating, and that adds to the additional feeling of, you know, that there's bigger obstacles of participation. more importantly, i think we've fundamentally taken our eye off the ball in where we are striking out when it comes to understanding american politics and where key decisions are made, how they are made, how people are participating. by focusing on as many pundits
do or as many scholars do or in the media in general, i think that we just -- the whole conversation is just off. it just doesn't match up with people's lives that we are, you know, perhaps we're using outdated terms. perhaps we're reflecting on -- perhaps we're missing the boat because society has changed in our way of understanding has not kept pace, but i think what our book has done 1 allow us to -- is allowed us to see new forms that nonprofit organizations have become increasingly important to governance at the local, regional, and federal level, and people's participation in nonprofit organizations in a variety ways needs to be understood as a part of american democracy. we have to look at the ways people carve out new spaces for
themselves rather than looking back at what people did in politics 50 years ago and say, you know, participation in this old form is increasing or decreasing, we need to ask the question, well, what are people doing today, and how does that matter, and what are the opportunities in obstacles that exist that people are doing. >> have you seen that? do you think since you've done research and the book came out we're on the path of getting people more meaningly involved in participation? >> yes, we r, but it's mixed. many new opportunities developed for direct civic engagement, and it can be meaningful. i like to think about, although we don't necessarily write about this in the book, i like to think about the way that so many
other ways, volters, and citizens are responding to the actions of others. if you're voting, your responding to the candidates that you're presented with if you're writing a letter to political leaders, than you are responding to something they have done, something that happened, or if you take up a protest, then you are responding to something that has you excited. when you form a nonprofit organization or a community group, it's a uniquely proactive space where you have the capacity to create a mission estimate and create a whole organization and create something that didn't exist before, and that's a new space that was not relevant in the middle of the 20th century, but it's important now. it's complicated. now, when you take a complicated political system we have in the united states and you recognize that it takes enormous
business -- it takes e enormous political literacy, an e enormous amount of time, it raises red flags and consider also that many scholars, many people reported that there is a growing divide between rich and poor in the united states. we have a shrinking middle class, and this is fairly well documented shift in american demographic environment, but what we've looked at is the way that that social and economic inequality that exists in the united states impacts and contributes to a broad political divide, and that there's a parallel story to be told alongside this growing trend and gap between rich and poor.
we have a growing divide in civic engagement, and that's a real threat to democracy that we need to pay attention to. >> and you work on a college campus, 10 as a -- so as a professor, do you see more involvement by students in college compared to the people you are working with in north carolina? is this is good time to get people involved, do they need to get involved earlier? >> i think so, but what i see is with students that i see is they find new ways to be socially active. social media is a part of that, you know, there's sort of a tried and true kinds of forms of activism that we like to see students involved in with, but there are a lot of other forms emerging too, and i think we're just starting to understand what all of that means. but i work off campus as well, i spend a large chunk of my time off campus with people in
regional, economic development, and environmental issues. a work with a lot of nonprofit organizations, government agency, and i see an enormous amount of creativity and change. in the ten years or so since i did my primary research in north carolina, i've seen some pretty big changes in terms of accountant, in terms of the relationships between the federal government, state governments, and non-profit organizations. we have new forms of oversight, recordkeeping, and accountability that are starting to emerge whereas in at the end of the 1990s when we were studying the book, it felt the wild west with a new system emerging. nobody knew what to do or how
accountability was going to take place, and people using public resources and defining the public good and working on behalf of the public who were not actually public officials. they were volunteers. they were heads of nonprofit organizations, and yet, they used public funds, and the public didn't have oversight. today, we have all of these measures and indicators and reporting systems that are a bit onerous were a lot of folk, but it does provide oversight. >> well, thank you so much forever your time. >> thank you. >> as was hinted at in the introduction, the thesis of the book in a nutshell is that climate change doesn't just look like bad weather. it also looks like ethnic violence, religious violence, counterwar, insurgency, anti-immigrant policing, and what i fried to do is tease out
in the different situations the cause role of climate change. i never argue it's the sole driving force of violence in any one place, but it's a contributing factor, and it always works in conjunction with preexisting crisis. the idea of the book came to me when i was reporting on the heroin economy in afghanistan, and farmers there, i asked why are you growing this illegal crop and running risks that came with that of getting arrested, having cropped destroyed by the government, and one -- part of the answer that came up again and again in different places over a series of years was, well, poppy is drought resistant. i didn't there was a drought in afghanistan, but turns out afghanistan is suffering the worst drought in living memory
coincided with the whole nato project of nation building in afghanistan, and poppy uses one fifth to one sixth of the amount of water that wheat requires so given this severe draught, the worst in living memory, it's really one of the only crops economically viable for farmers in afghanistan. it a oured to -- occurred to me with the religious reasons one has for joining the taliban, there was an economic motivation as well which was linked to climate change because in the war, there are two positions on poppy, nato and want afghan government oppose it and attack it, frequently, more often than not in rhetoric because there's so much corruption that people buy themselves out of the e radification programs, but that doesn't mean it's not a threat. the other side, the taliban, defend the farmer's right to grow poppy, so in facing this
draught and adapting to it, farmers have an economic motivation to support th taliban because that's a side in the conflict defending their right to grow the one crop that's comically viable given the crisis they faye. >> watch this and other programs online at booktv.org. >> we are back live in austin, texas. texas, the state capitol, the home of university of texas. this is the 16th annual book festival started by laura bush in 1995. we have about two hours left of our live coverage this weekend. ..
>> not only because they are really good which they are because of the proceeds benefit public libraries in texas like the one where my wife grew up with a population of 6,000 of money from the texas book festival means something to libraries like that. would me talk about the program a little bit i have been asked to tell you to please turn off or silence your cellphones have been problems in previous
sessions but because we're all about the era of spring feel free to tweak or facebook updates. [laughter] during the next hour this week the world was transfixed as the wounded and then dead muammar qaddafi were displayed on television and the internet and three cable news network's described his death as what does that mean for the reelection campaign? that shows what is wrong with america we always think what does it mean for us not necessarily what does it mean for the countries involved or the arab world or the muslim world or the entire world. today we have an outstanding panel to bring us various perspectives what is going on right now with the era of spring many introduced the
panel briefly then we will have presentations made that we will get on to the discussion. james zogby author of "arab voices" is the president of the arab-american institute and senior adviser to the firm james zogby international with which i have worked coslet-- closely. he writes a weekly column that appears in plenty of arab newspapers for in post a weekly discussion and next to him we have robin wright author of "rock the casbah: rage and rebellion across the islamic world" reporting from 140 countries from "the washington post" to the near times in "new york times" magazine the atlantic and sunday times in foreign affairs and others. she has won many awards among them the u.s.
correspondent gold medal the oversight stage overseas press club award for best reporting for exceptional courage and initiative. per six previous books include green and shadowed and the last great revolution and sacred rage, flash point*, in in the name of god. then a bad team cleanup is austan day he is author of nine books a nationally syndicated columnist the edge of a professor at the university of texas and radio commentator with npr and a retired reservist colonel and the iraq war veteran and a principal of the high-tech consulting firm his book the quick and
dirty guide to war has been writing about the balkans for three decades. well research military biography and with special the vince today. i'd like to start by turning the microphone over to rabin. >> thank you very much. first of all, thank you to the texas book festival. i always wanted to come to austin i look forward to coming back. [applause] [laughter] today is an extraordinary day to discuss this panel. 28 years ago i lived in beirut and was awake and october 23, 1983 by a sender's explosion. the largest non-nuclear explosion anywhere on earth
since world war ii. largest loss of u.s. military life in a single incident since you do much. it was the second suicide bombing against an american targets anywhere. 241 marines lost their lives that day but in contrast, today, an unprecedented number of two nations turned out at the first free fair democratic election in the history -- . [applause] with extraordinary enthusiasm and what this illustrates is the amazing transition what the region is undergoing as the world's most solid tile region the last holdout over the last 30 years with the end of apartheid and minority rule in africa and military
dictatorship and the demise of communism with the soviet union and their world is catching up with what is happening elsewhere. there are three very different things happening today but the first one that we've celebrated the two nation election where the first arab revolt began last december with the first election in the region in the aftermath today. but it is a challenge to the political status quo to the jury at -- geriatric autocrats who have dominated the region not just for centuries but for millennium. the second thain is a separate but related part is the challenge to extremists in light of some of bin laden and his affiliate's. reflected in a lot of different ways but a reflection first and
foremost, that people in the islamic world have phase of far greater challenge and pay a far greater price than we have in the united states. looking where it will pull out its troops we lost about 200 americans to suicide bombs it in the same time frame iraqis have lost over 12,000 suicide bombings alone they have paid a higher price and just as we have taken on extremism so has the majority of muslims in the region. the third part of the common trend is the rejection of the rigid ideology that is represented most of all with iran. and in the aftermath of the
2009 election where millions of people spontaneously took to the streets and over one dozen major cities and two dozen smaller towns to challenge the outcome of an election. the movement was born. it has been quashed but the opposition is not dead. this challenges not know ferber are talk about all three of these as part of a common trend that i call the counter jihad. not just from the politics of change but also the culture of change. one of the most interesting things to me how i spent two years playback to reach 10 when a landed in the middle east. i covered all six wars with the iranian revolution to the point* every time remanded someplace it is a disaster my father said you wouldn't dare go to bermuda
because there'd be a coup d'etat. [laughter] the cultural changes reflected in lots of different ways. i call hip-hop islam rather become the rhythm of resistance where young people in the same way were young americans turn to hip-hop as a way to reject game violence but deliver the angry message and the same thing in the arab world and we saw this even before the ginnie shin revolt began nobody has ever told me to talk louder. [laughter] where hip-hop was illegal and you find young rappers who were challenging the regime by putting lyrics on their facebook page one plays the government could not sensor with lyrics that
are angrier than any politician, opposition member had dared to water in the 23 years since the president to power. also reflected with the theater of countered jihad where four you find playwrights' writing plays that have the word jihad in them but one of my favorite is from a young egyptian call that jihad jones. [laughter] it is a parody on the muslim stereotypes and another one is until jihad do us part which is believe it or not a romantic comedy. wrote it is also reflected in the new muslim comedies where you find a young muslim comedians telling jokes against the extremist or the religious you craft
in ways that the politicians will not. and more importantly the idea of skepticism and cynicism and ridicule which can is a common denominator as the 20 of counter jihad. there are a lot of different angles but i went to close with the couple of points. we celebrate today as an extraordinary day which is the beginning of what i call the beginning of a long process. we should have no illusions on the capabilities of the arab uprising that challenges are many one of those being the basic of dividing up the political and economic spoils. my great fear is the message that resonates today is the
economy stupid will also resume in this part of the world were only one country of the 22 arab countries has the means to make the transition and erotically that is libya and it still faces lots of problems 30 tribal plans are important for only has 6.5 million people and a lot of oilwells so it has the means of reconstructing the country and has had several months to develop lowered relations and dealing with the outside world to picking up garbage the rest of the country in the region face far greater obstacles egypt with 85 million people with no real natural resources may be natural gas but nothing to write home about, the challenge is how these countries will give the young people who put their lives on airline a sense of
promise of the future at a time unemployment is growing by the day the economy is undergoing transition the second problem is defining a new political system. when there were over 6,400 amendments to the constitution proposed the division ousted the shot toppling a form and were so deep they started to tell others and over the next 15 months over 1,000 senior officials were killed a president prime minister in
during that time i eight days of the ayatollah khomeini came back from the religious center the cleric must serve in the supervisory position over all of the traditional branches of government that is what we are stuck with today. corley we celebrate the election we have to remember the challenge and the final thing on u.s. policy which i think has 10 pretty well we have not been consistent and often and in response to events happening on the ground we cannot say they are not legitimate we're inconsistent when it comes to countries like saudi arabia because of. the factors that have defined american policy for
the last six decades determine our position and history will move with a lot of questions of what we have done. just as the world is in the beginning of a beginning sour read developing our foreign policy which is the most important and chain of events anywhere in the world in the early 21st century. thank you. [applause] james zogby book "arab voices" is important for all of us to read to get a sense of what the arab world or world's think of the united states, what the aspirations are. you really do get a much better sense of what is inside the mind your the
perception of more misperception of the arab world and that may turn it over to james zogby. >> thank you very much. i have been to austin many times. [laughter] what brings me here is the lbj library which is an extraordinary institution of its kind of recommended two everyboby who is watching if you go to any presidential library not only the story of a great man of the incredible era in our history when a cultural revolt literally transformed who we are in how we see ourselves as a people and it is all built around the story of the president and how he reacted. it is a great place to visit. to talk about the arab world and also talk about us. the book that i wrote to not just about the arabs into
they are but what we don't know. hat issue is a critical one. i like to point* out even before iraq, the end of vietnam, american has spent -- spend more money and send more troops and fought more wars and lost more lives and has more at risk in the middle east more than anyone else in though whole world. every president since jimmy carter had his presidency defined by success or failure from the iranian hostage crisis through the arab spring with all the issues confronting obama's but yet with all of that it is a part of the world americans just don't know. when we ask questions here at home about the arab world the answers become the shocking and "national geographic" did 11 month before the iraq war was supposed to start asking
americans to identify and only 11% could find them on a map. the same question asked in 2009 it jumped up 37%. we just completed a poll about america leaving iraq and asked the series of questions in what was absolutely startling to me, the favorable and unfavorable but about 50% of the american people who had no solid opinion at all because we remove ourselves and live a life as if that region in all that is going on in it does not matter to us. does not just the american people also the politicians they will the ignorance. they may know about the issues, it really doesn't cut to anything in washington to be a professional solely that allows white to be a champion on whatever issue i want to do with. with the republican party the debate as it becomes
tangential to that middle east whether obama to us under the bus or muslims should take the oil deal that is about as sophisticated as the debate. we are in trouble. to handle not just the era of spring and the tumultuous change it represents but to handle daily life and the ordinary comings and goings in the part of the world for we are so heavily invested and so much is at stake where political campeau is at risk. it is shocking we just don't know. we don't know because the educational system does not prepare us. if you look at the textbooks stayed of education your board of education just passed a resolution to roll back changes that had been made in the textbooks to demand the new content to be taken out.
you set the standard for the rest of the country because you are such a huge market. there are bitterly organizations formed to remove from textbooks the things to make them more relevant and helpful to our people to understand up through 9/11. the middle east got scant mention, if at all. the only mention was said by with the campbell in front of two pyramids. i now think that was product placement because he would not know what was on the cover of the cigarettes. [laughter] it is the pyramids? that must be good. but that is what we knew and a section went -- section on better life but the fact that the arab civilization made. we talk about the dark ages.
and then the others moved south and advances with science and technology with art and architecture. and when the renaissance occurred it is not because they have been buried or to say do this and so too did the knowledge that was developing. we could have taught history as if it were a continuous love of learning with civilization being one process of interdependency. because of the don't know is the images that we get or the understanding comes through negative stereotypes. it consumes may sometimes to think about what most of us
when we polled americans when is the first thing that comes to mind when you think of arabs? >> 85% are ol, wellcome of violence or terrorism. what is the best thing that comes to mind? fifty-five% say nothing. in fact,, we are ill-equipped to handle the arabs bring. we don't understand the region now there is change taking place. what we did in it is in my book the best way to understand is my mom used to tell me if he was someone to hear you you need to listen to them first. know what they're thinking and understand the questions they're asking see don't end up talking at them but with them. we ask 4,000 and questions
from morocco to the united arab emirates and organized by gender, age, a country country, in then to let in the voices we have the myths about arabs. they are all angry. living in carlisle pennsylvania just moving from philadelphia my neighbors said you live there? i said yes philadelphia? with your wife? yes kids? >> yes. he got indignant. how could you? they murder people there everyday. i have seen it in television. i tried to tell him about the day italian market were the chestnut hill or lincoln
drive and he had none of it the image of philadelphia was formed but now if it in cairo goes to the hospital in the morning to delivers a couple of babies in goes to the clinic in the afternoon there is no story there but if he straps a bomb he becomes news and that is all we know. to visit it is safer to go to beirut with the crime and incidence, that is not what we think we see them as angry people they go to bed at night he teeing america wake of aiding israel and spend a day in a mosque learning to pay more were watching god to zero that makes them hates even more
but the principal concerns in life of our employment. education. health care. sound familiar? because people like us. issues close to home when we pull in egypt before the revolution the top three priorities are those that are just pulled up the priorities were still the same. and democracy as much as i support the ears bring in no those who led it and encouraged to have a free election democracy was number eight on the list. a revolution of the hungary because that's what matters to know that they have a future they also watch
movies. they watch soap operas and during the tunisian revolt when it was just turning and all of a sudden the 28 year-old son came in and said it is on and turns the tv to arab has talent. [laughter] so for the next hour we watch did debating as vigorously that show as we have been debating the two nation revolt. people want to be understood not just one in a wall. they are more than that. so we tried to shatter the myth and talk about people with their diversity and the common themes with the people that they are and those 65% say they love our
values but the issue is they feel like jilted lovers. may want to be loved buy you but do not feel that you do and the policies and to veto a resolution melamine bridge that obamacare has used ha and the patriot act was reauthorize for a number of years. the message that we send is those values don't apply. we did not change it all what we want from you but it is critical we understand
and we change. they are changing but we're not and we have to keep up with the world. >> he thing keogh. [applause] >> as i was reading boston's parallels kept jumping out at me like the use of air power with what is now no airpower with the war going back one century. and another is the latest technology to spread the revolution in the years leading of two independent turkey as the leader prepared would like to turn the floor over to austan to talk about the parallels two what is going on now. >> it reveals has mentioned how many times they have been two austan. i live in austin. [laughter] [applause]
some of you using those fans back and forth may find that regrettable but i would say welcome to texas. [laughter] but i will address the questions the parallels of 1911 but first after hearing what jim had to say, i will do something dangerous to tell a personal story that is an anecdote to reinforce several things that jim said. coming at a different angle. 1982 steadying in germany. four or five months there in anticipation of my ph.d. examination and my group of friends were all syrians and the jordanians. a number of reasons that came about in part because i was interested in the near east and already right team about the issues and already something of a pocket
historian and i could talk to them about ottoman oppression and the provinces syria and now opening a personal challenge. to make this short and a stand there are a lot of good intentions but, over time, i will do one of the things my buddies did to sit in a german cafe sipping coffee he puts his hand up to his head like this and says this is the way they keep us and talking about the assad regime. i will not say anymore about it because i know he is around by that is the way it is. i got from the other syrians with say
math -- mathematician going through the number of cousins who have been jailed and also the fact his brother has been jailed. what are the concerns? alternately, how is america doing? jobs, wealth creation, you heard him mention that coming through the polls but to use the term self-determination. they were very sophisticated there are only so many things of the united states can do but the limit to the u.s. power with regimes that are in place and countries in place and deal with the state-by-state basis. it looks like it is static
and the united states is reinforcing but then they have interactions with the americans to say this is terrible. you cannot live this way under fear and oppression is not living and it is a common theme jobs? economic performance? economic growth? and a self-determination i sound like world war i historian that i and instead of democracy. but freedom from fear, freedom of oppression, that is a component. how do we modernize so we don't live under this oprah's if your? i have written about this morning on a weekly standard blog early march, one of my friends said house does the mayor could do it?
you cannot do this more than the french revolution in 1848 which made the interesting analog but you have to off your autocrats. we cannot do that the much more complex discussion but it sounds poignant and life is not a movie. if i ever get a chance to help you i will. that is not our last conversation with those of we have been going on four or five months and i hear the residents of those discussions with my friends 29 years later but many of those things they were expressing our elements coming into world war i the eighth time in more than his expose, created by world
war i or transformed the big message out of this, trying to be a historian but change between the war of 1911 and 1912 as a colonial war a fight between the zero italians and the turks with control of libya the overlay of the religious war a political tool to invoke jihad to create enthusiasm that the turkish authors used to organize. is the world's first air war. you saw air power applied in a very specific way libya
2011 using the early aircraft but also going after the turk and arab positions to do very little damage to them by the way. with their craft technology but here is the big difference applying to the arabs bring. the component of self-determination was not in play 1911, 1912 but a collision between the power in italy whose collapse in part with the ottoman empire that in comparative terms is failing to modernize technologically at the same
pace of its competitors. one of the things going on with the ottoman empire and also the romanov several leave them for another discussion but nevertheless certain components the fossil as asian of the wants vibrant and vital civilization of the muslim world. by 1918, 1919 self-determination to bring this back to my friends of 1982 that is what they were talking to me about. they feel they have been denied. i have been looking for arrow spring 2011 since 1982 actually earlier than that when i talk about the personal level then for
those who do offered the orientation economic maternity and political maternity those who are authoritarians understand seeing it as a tool of modernization. comedy of democracy are both tools that they open up to self examination i did not know about comedy but that opens the of politics. self-determination it comes to power and then restart 1922 and 1923 and that's modernize st. been
discussing with my friends 1982 watching that work out 2011 today. [applause] we will open the floor to questions if people want to line up. starting off with the question for rabin sense to go 45 minutes without mentioning al qaeda, they just want to bring apart from her book that says al qaeda has killed many, most the its own brethren but otherwise has achieved nothing. what do you think the peak of the al qaeda influence and why the fed declined? >> it has declined in large part because it has not provided the basic answers to most people in the region.
here is the paid the enormous price at the hands of al qaeda not provided whether education or health care or what people care about that you find the majority of people in the region talk about wanting laptops, not a suicide. can i read one joke from my book? proving the point* of al qaeda and the degree to which, i love this joke by the iranian-born comic who takes on the subject of extremism to reflect how far people are going to say one guy can really screwed up for the rest of us. look at the christmas day bomber. he tried to blow up the northwest flight from amsterdam to the jury to whatever his name is, i say
he was crazy. after all where was the bomb? writes in his underwear. in a normal man would have questioned that instruction then he switches to middle east accents and assumes the role of a normal hijacker in a final discussion. excuse me i have one last question for you. you say my reward in happen would be convergence -- 70 vergence so we could put the bomb someplace else? i think i will need my ap aps -- . [laughter] so the whole idea of self examination is underscored with everything that is happening.
>> influences on the air of spring with the rise of the internet with any others? >> actually the this inventors' step back democracy movements in the world. it was a false notion that neo conservative spread that we could go win and do this and the rest of the region like a begin democracy to live up and democracy would spread i call it the infantile fantasy and it was part of the arab leaders became more repressive because they resented their
support for ameritech, doing a poll in jordan and egypt 2005 but we got 5% favorable rating from america. that is the year liz cheney goes to jordan and rice goes to egypt to deliver the american made a mistake for 60 years we supported dictators against the people and did it in jordan with the king and people were flabbergasted at her stupidity because favor the only friend they had. when bush needed to meet with our malachi where did he go? jordon and the keying greet him at the airport a few a congressmen with a 5% favorable rating he would have bingo match on the other end of the district.
we are pulling on that right now with a massive survey survey, of a tool that led communications and helped to organize but even the organizers say social media did not create the revolt. i think without question of the servile corruption of these leaders and if you actually made reforms three performance before could have gotten away without this but it was the sense of not just the corruption but to pass on to his son to be continued indefinitely. when tunisia happened because of corruption and the stale party and labor play a key role to take this to the next level a
spontaneous demonstration but we're really gave it substance was the islamic movement that step din as it did in egypt to the show was light connecticut cairo was like broadway. and to get it right to say we did not start it we can now the.org directive but we can help that help is in capacity building. they do not want us meddling. a revolution in by them and for them and not about us. the more we talk about leading or directing we heard to those we want to help. our favorable rating in the
arab world today is or from the bushes administration. we have to think about why. >> i have to think it is an enormous role but three things trigger this one was the demographics of the largest baby boom proportionately in the world 300 million arabs are under the age of 30. second the majority are literate for the first time that allows them to have broader ambitions and then at the media environment and that includes women. with iran and saudi arabia over 60 percent of university students are female. the tools of technology to put those together it has created a dynamic why it is 2011 and not 1982.
>> and the telegraph? >> to make day comment on the lowered ratings on the zero arab world did you read the article a few weeks ago? one of the things he pulled out kiddies bush and administration made it clear they wanted democracy it is on board but there was clarity and it did the available on the web. one of the biggest influences of every kind of human endeavor is correction.
corruption kills revolution and it also kills established institutions. that is a little point* that added influence that is what they really insisted upon by a personal responsibility to turn into resist correction. revolutionary leadership to resist corruption one of the biggest problems speaking now of an american since soldiers serving in iraq with the corruption and institutions destroy efforts to build the state. efforts at capacity building and they are undermined by correction. that is not technological influence but that is what will shape this and it
always does. talk about the technology there betty wants the cellphone that is international media. and see what kind of power this has and the iranian dictators are afraid of these things that is technological penetration but the internet and the cellphones is very lateral. the way to think about this is a connection that everybody is their own telegraph operator. once you hit the speed of light, you have information transmission moving to in istanbul instantaneously and no longer in the same way
ideological isolated unless you keep everybody illiterate. then you could isolate the public but now it is that economic modernization because you kept everybody informed. no question but it is not new. we have jumbo jets you could get. here to australia and about 30 hours. aircraft are just being real rose because moving faster than analysts suddenly everybody is connected. i don't think it is determinant but it has been influential and we have witnessed that because of the proliferation of individual communication technology.
i think determinative is corruption and how you deal with that leadership and this is a role for outsiders who wish to encourage success and now to talk more optimistically. nobody exaggerated pessimism but that is something that can be done, and courage, i know what the faint of transparency international but to act as an outside non-governmental organization to look at corrupt activities in societies. >> let's go to the next question. >> many consider turkey to be the role model for the rest of the muslim world because we're more
westernized and democratic but with the jailing of the journalist recently a kumbaya day thain turkey is a good role model for the rest of the muslim world? are they moving in the opposite direction of the arab spring? >> great question unfortunately i don't now three hours. really the intentions of the turkish prime minister sometimes ridiculed as the sultan because he rises out of the justice and development party as the islamist party. the prime minister and politician in the time of day turkish present this
justice and development party comes to power one of the things to take this back to beat the republican party is the rampant corruption and turkey experienced in the 1990's. i will get to your answer but the spiritual values act against corruption and they have had won election in since. but he also said back in 1990's that democracy is it trade and sometimes you get off of it. this is why as a secular activist at the same time to make statements like that is
the underlining of the orientation. this is my assessment was an error in spring 2011. i think the prime minister is learning something. does everybody know what he said when he went to egypt? i encourage you to have a secular state. really implicitly and based on the reporting practices comparing it to iran dismal failure. it produces that the goals of poverty and oppression trying to escape and says i may not be a secular person negative secular leader of a secular democracy those are the right words sure it is a
model and the balding situation and speaking as the historian, . >> you can some of been a sentence. >> to sentence is. muslims account 1.6 billion people on earth. one out of every five and out of those 57 countries, turkey is the most important to decide what comes next with leadership. and to be the most dynamic player but everything whenever the prime minister has done. >> i don't disagree with the importance but to make an observation was some polling when you ask who is leading right now? they say turkey. when you ask questions about who they want to lead they
say egypt. this is an arab narrative it is still seen as the 1.2 billion they are united by language and culture and political concerns. a common language means there is a history and a set of values and culture that comes from created to help create the language and we are wildly different. go to odessa at war midland or brooklyn you have a different world but when 9/11 happened we were all mayor can coming together out of common concern and the sensibility of who we are. era of has that. it is not racial not even ethnic.
but the sensibility coming from a common history and it is very real for better or worse is only on the periphery. turkey's sen say signal as a place holder. >> thank you for a fascinating hour. [applause] >> we have books to sell you can head over to the book to end. maybe we could do a weekly show on the s. [laughter] [inaudible conversations]
>> booktv live coverage of the 16th annual book festival continues from austin, texas. you have then listening to robin wright and james zogby talk about the air of spring going into the air of the year and we want to get your reaction. we have one more panel coming and we will be talking about the history of
the second amendments starting in about 50 minutes. the first 312 take your calls we have robin wright will not author who was just on the panel, very quickly, what did you not get to talk about that he wanted to bring up about the era of spurring? >> that this is important because in the most volatile of region, every society that is when his saying unrest, it is motivated by a peaceful civil disobedience versus the dirt poor countries like them better oil-rich countries like bahrain. . .
>> a time, you know, not too many years ago he became loopy and repressive. >> good to see you, thanks for being on the panel here, and we'll continue to take calls now. we want to hear from you on what you thought about the panel you just heard. starting with a call from michigan. you're on booktv. >> caller: thank you very much. i thought the panel was very, very good, and those are very, very smart people there. i really learned a lot. may i just say something?
>> sure, go ahead. >> caller: yes, would you remind me, is hamas a palestinian or a lebanese group? >> why is that important, caller? >> caller: it's an important to a statement i'd like to make about the elections they're goings to have soon in some of the places. >> go ahead and make your statement. >> caller: all right. it's when they do have these elections that there's been a lot of pair -- paranoia about how the islamist groups will take every and everything. we need to respect the results of whatever elections they have as long as they are all free and fair elections, and everyone's playing by the same rules because if we don't, it's really very hypocritical. i mean, it's like saying your
for free speech except for speech you don't like. if we say wii for democracy and reject the results because they could elect these party of god type people that we have problems with. i can understand us having problems with -- >> all right, caller, let's leave your comment there. thank you for calling in. seattle, washington, what did you think about the arab spring panel we just showed on booktv? seattle, please, go ahead. >> caller: yeah, you know, i was pleased at the enthusiasm and the sincerity of the authors, but i thought that what they expressed was naivety in terms of the u.s.. i mean, i'm not sure at all, in fact, i don't believe that the bush or obama administration is really interested in creating
democracy in these countries. i think primarily the united states is interested in their oil, and i think they believe that, and i think it's true. when obama took office, he did -- you know, he let the bush administration slide by without challenging them on the way that they had conducted themselves in the various crimes of torture and all that kind of thing, and i think that the obama administration continued those as well, so i don't see any evidence at all, really, that the united states in opportunity z p pob is interested in creating democracy there. the speeches the president gives are good and eloquent, but when you look at what they do, i don't think that that's really a
policy we're engaged in. >> we're taking your reaction to the arab spring panel that we just showed you here at the texas book festival in austin. san jose, california, go ahead with your comment. >> caller: yes, hi. i came -- [inaudible] the arab spring countries to seize power -- what's the possibility of all of that? thank you. >> los angeles, what did you think about the panel? go ahead. >> caller: i thought the panel was wonderful. i wish we could have, you know, given questions to them, but the one thing i think most native born americans are sick of funding true the united nation support of the camps of the palestinian and the aid we give to israel which could be used to
rebuild our educational structure. i often also hear from native born americans we need strong support for israel because they are our friend in the region to help with our enemies there. the truth is is that our enemies are there because we support israel who is really not a democracy, but a -- basically a thee karattic military dictatorship who spies on us with people like john than power and his wife and the art school student spy ring. no politician or journalist like your esteemed panel like mrs. wright, she'd never go against israel. it would mean what happened to hellen thomas; right? thank you, sir. >> a tweet, the arab spring is a strong topic and into the near future now because we're in the middle of it. next call, chicago, what's your
thoughts? >> caller: i missed the particular conversation, but i think it's so wonderful that entirely in the book review you're having these days is so much is about the middle east, and the freedom in this country is a gift to the arabs if they can just use it. >> thank you, caller. that was from chicago. next, florida, winter haven, florida, you're on booktv on c-span2. >> caller: yes, good afternoon. >> hi. go ahead with your comment. >> caller: uh, yes, the panel is absolutely excellent. we have to understand we're all human, and rather whether we are
red, black, white, or red, we come from our mothers, and for us to be as critical as we are towards the arabs because of 9/11, that's like saying we are against our historians from world war i, and god bless the panel that you have because the more the education that we give, the people that have never met or been involved with any arab, arabs are human, and that's what we need to understand. they want the same things we do, and they don't want -- they don't want the war and the terrorists that everybody puts arabs in the category of terrorists, and they are not, they are people, they are human, and god bless you for putting this panel on. >> detroit, michigan, you're on booktv, hi. >> this is a.j..
hi, how are you? i had to -- [inaudible] great powerful, knowledgeable panel people. my prediction is that u.s. is saving -- next year's presidential election, he -- that will have a final blow to saudis who -- [inaudible] it's all related, but eventually the people will win, and i enjoyed this panel conversation. thank you. >> a.j., where are you from originally? >> i'm originally from pakistan, and i migrated here in 1985. >> all right. thanks for calling in, and thank you for watching booktv. we are live here at the texas book festival as we wrap up our two-day coverage, one more panel coming up in a few minutes on gun rights. adam wring leer, well known
historian wrote a book called "gunfights." next caller from san fransisco, you're on booktv. go ahead with your comment. >> caller: hi, i really enjoyed the panel. i think they were very knowledgeable. i learned a lot. another book about the history of the middle east "destiny disrupted" also really is good about giving the history of the middle east. for instance, during the middle ages, the arabian physicians were able to do cross c-sections when queens of england were dying in childbirth, and about others, i just really loved hearing about that. do you know that he outlawed the defense of vail and gave women the right to vote within 20 years of when women in the united states got the right to
vote? >> that call was from san fransisco, and next here in texas, loredo down on the border. go ahead with your comment, please. >> caller: [inaudible] equating arab culture with islamic culture. they are not the same thing. if i recall correctly, the biggest islamic country in the world is indonesia, and they are not arabs. >> thank you, caller. we'll leave it there. old sport 2 tweets in negative perceptions of islam come from popular culture. no, they come from islamists cutting off heads. that's, again, from old sport 2, a tweet here to booktv. pair dice, -- paradise, california, go ahead. >> caller: i want to appreciate that panel and intelligent people speaking as historians and reporters.
my only feels is i wish you could have a longer time for the panel on the topic that's that important because i think that all of them had a lot more to offer than they had time to do it. thank you very much. >> thank you, caller. california, what's your thoughts? >> caller: hello? >> hi. >> caller: hi, how are you? >> i'm fine, how are you? >> caller: this is my first experience with watching your panels. i watched yesterday and today, and, well, i, too, really do appreciate the fact that you have the diversity of the panel and that you also are giving these viewpoints. i agree that, you know, we've had revolutions now, but that because of our situation in the united states, we can't really get involved. the u.n. is going to have to take over now.
we can't really get involved in rebuilding these nations and putting them back together. they're going to have to do it themselves because i feel that we are getting into something like we were in iran. , you know, iraq, where you got so much tribal fighting and the americans can't really afford it anymore, and -- but your panel was wonderful. >> caller, can i ask you a question? what do you think about the president obama's announcement about the withdrawal of all u.s. troops from iraq by the end of the year? >> caller: i think it's really about time. i really do. we've been there so long. we really didn't need to go in as far as i was concerned. i supported troops, and i'll always support our troops, but i feel it's very much time for us to get out. they have the income.
they have to develop their own structure just like all of these nations will have to. it may not be what we want, but it's going to end up what they want regardless. we're going to -- we supported these revolutions, and now the outcome is their problem, and we're going to have to live with it. >> all right, caller, thank you, and welcome to booktv. finally, we want to hear from new castle, delaware. go ahead, new castle. >> caller: good afternoon. yeah, i enjoyeded the panel, but i wish we could have a true discussion of the relationship between united states and israel. we send israel billions of dollars, and we ask them to stop building their settlements, they tell us to, you know, buzz off. they not going to do it. they attacked the uss liberty in 1967, and we can't get anybody to really come out and discuss
what israel is or maybe what their relationship with china is, which is very strong, by the way, okay, bye-bye. >> that's the end of the open phone segment for this part of booktv. you can see we're here in austin, texas, 16th annual book festival in downtown austin in and around the state capitol, two blocks from where we are now with our booktv tent. now beginning in the tent is adam wrinkler talking about the second amendment in the america. we're now going to the last event at the texas book festival. [inaudible conversations] >> good afternoon, everyone, and welcome to the texas book festival. i'm rick dunum editor of the
herst newspaper, and i've been hijacked to harry presidential because some governor is running for president right now. in my extracurricular life, i'm the president of the national press club's institute of journalism. libraries are important because that's what the texas book fest very festival is all about. they raise money for festivals in texas, all the book programs, and this benefits the state of texas. i highly recommend that you buy "gunfight," and our author signs books after the frame in the book signing tent up congress avenue.
i've been asked by the folks at c-span to ask you to turn off or silence your cell phones. we've had problems earlier today, and if you want to take out your concealed weapons permits now, it's probably a good time also. concealed weapons, don't take out because if you do, they are not concealed anymore. [laughter] the what weir here today is to talk about gunfight, the battle over the right to bear arms in america written by adam, a professor of law at ucla and a specialist in u.s. constitutional law. his wide ranging scholarship talks about a wide variety of topics incoming the right to bear arms, finance law, affirmative action, and judicial independence, a frequent cricketer to the daily beast and huffington post, work is cited in numerous supreme court
decision and his commentary is featured in places as varied as cnn, "new york times," and "wall street journal". other works include co-editing the encyclopedia of the american constitution. "gunfight" received outstanding reviews, it's a ground breaking work, and here to tell us more about it is adam. i'll start with a basic question which what is the basic idea of the book? >> well, thank you, thank you for the wonderful introduction for for having me and to all 6 you for being here too. gunfight weaves together the dramatic legal drama blind the landmark supreme court case, the first face to clearly hold back the second amendment to protect an individual right to own guns
for personal protection. it weaves together that story with the stories of our remarkable fascinating hidden history of guns. in my research, i found that the right to bear arms is one of the oldest most established constitutional rights, yet, at the same time, we've also always had gun control. americans always trying to balance gun rights with public safety, and our efforts to balance those two things shaped america in really fascinating and unexpected ways. i look at the lessons of our efforts to draw the balance between gun rights and public safety, and also try to map out a way that we can break the current stalemate on guns by looking back to the past and understanding better how the right to bear arms has coexisted with gun control since the founding era. >> the book itself centers on supreme court case. probably everyone here knows about it, the district of columbia versus heller.
can you talk a little about what the facts were in that case and #kwr the case -- why the case is so important? >> well, although the supreme court mentioned the second amendment over the years, it had very strenuously avoided ruling on what the meaning of the second amendment was, so despite the fact that we know in our culture that everything ends up in the supreme court eventually, the supreme court was determined for decades not to rule on the second amendment. they just left that to the lower courts and to the legislatures. this heller case was the first time, not only the supreme court unambiguously held lack the second amendment of guns, but the first time that the court struck down a law that a gun control law for violating the second amendment, and the law struck down was a law in washington, d.c.. it was a ban on handguns, but also a ban on the use of long guns for anything but
recreational purposes. you could own a rifle or shotgun but it had to be locked or disassembled and you could only unlock it or assemble it for authorized reck creational purposes like hunting or target shooting. a dc court held specifically that if a burglar is breaking into your home, you are not allowed to assemble your gun for self-defense, and use it for self-defense because that was not a recreational purpose. you it take it and bang them over the head with it, but you can't shoot someone with if if they threaten their life, so the supreme court stepped in and ruled on this case. one of the remarkable things about the case was that the lawyers who pursued it, although they were trying to invigorate and provide judicial protection of the second amendment, the nra was opposed from the lawyers and lawsuit in the get-go and did everything they could to stop the case from ever going to the
supreme court. >> why is that? that's counter intuitive and fascinating. why would the nra not wanted this case to go all the way? >> well, the nra stated reasons to the lawyers involved in the case was that they were afraid of losing. they didn't want their view of the second amendment rejected by the united states supreme court, especially this supreme court which has a majority of republican appointees, it's a conservative court. they didn't want the court to reject that view. that would not help the nra. the lawyers involved in the case were a group of three libertarian lawyers who had no real substantial connections with the gun rights movement, they had not argued or litigated gun cases before, and they suspected that maybe the nra was fearful, actually, of winning. the nra told me in interviews the nra thrives on crisis driven fund raising that warns people the government is comes to get
your guns. if the supreme court says the government can't get the guns, what does that do not fundraising? whatever the reason, the nra fought tooth and nail to keep this from going to the supreme court. >> so you are talking about earlier the people using guns for personal protection being one of our oldest, most established rights, but the supreme court had not ruled as you've said over these past dpaidz on the definitive meaning of the second amendment, so if the supreme court never ruled on it, it's been more than two centuries since the bill of rights was created. why is the right to bear arms such an old and established tradition? >> we8, it's interesting. -- well, it's interesting. the second amendment is in such debate over recent years whether it protectses the right -- protects the right of individuals to hold arms or the right of state militias to
organize and form without federal interference, but what i found in my research for gunfight is the right to bear arms is the oldest constitutional rights regardless of the second amendment. every state has its own constitution, and almost every one of those states protects the rights to bear arms in its state constitution. clearly, a right that's not associated with militia service. some of the provisions go back to the orangal founding, many came in the early 1800s and mid-1800s of states joined the union, and in addition what i found in research for the book is whenever you think about the second apple, it's clear that the 14th amendment to the constitution, one of the provisions adopted right after the civil war to guarantee the freed men their equal rights, the 14th amendment was clearly designed in part to protect the right of the freed men to have guns.
right after the civil war, racists were trying to take away the freed man's rights to personal protection, and the 14th amendment said repeated dedly and often was the purpose was to protect the freedman's right to bear arms. >> again, you have historical discusses over our american history on the right to bear arms. what kind of gun control did the founding fathers have or what was their con cement -- concept of where we head with personal use and ownership of guns? >> well, the founding fathers firmly believed in civilian ownership of firearms. they did not believe in a 1257bding army. they thought it would be used corruptly by the president or whoever was governing to run over the liberties of the people and thought that a guarantee of democratic liberty was in an
armed pop pew lotion. -- pop pew populous. they believed when called to serve, you grab your gun and fight in an instance, hence the minutemen. they had gun regulation. they barred large portions of the population from owning guns, not only slaves, of course, but freed blacks were ban because they were thought to be a risk of safety joining up with their slaved brethren in a revolt against the masters. they also were willing to disarm law-abiding white people, namely loyalists. we're not talking about traders, people fighting for the british, but what historians estimate was 40% of the american population opposed to the revolution, thought it was a bad idea taking on great britain, and if you did not swear an oath of loyalty to the revolution, you were forcibly disarmed. they had other restrictions in
the form of militia laws. they declared any male whose free between 18-ha 45 was a member of the my militia and had to outfit themselves with their own private firearm, a version of the obama's health care individual mandate, only the framers didn't require insurance, but required you to buy a gun. >> so, let's take us through history from the time of the founding fathers. how did america and the american government balance this sense of the right to bear arms with what we would call gun control with curves on how you could own weaponry. >> well, as i mentioned, the founding fathers had such kissers. we think as the south as a support for gun rights, but the earliest gun control laws were from the south. bans, for instance, on concealed
carry of firearms became popular in the early 1800s in the south. those laws were not about disarming african-americans. they were already disarmed in the south. those were laws designed to discourage white men from getting into duals, honor duals, which were common place in the early 1800s, and lawmakers sought to stop that. there's been control throughout american history. there's the story about the wild west. the wild west had some of the most restrictive gun control laws in the nation. everyone in the untamed wilderness had guns, so much so that stagecoach drivers road with someone at great expense next to them with a shotgun in their hands. our kids say, "i'm riding shotgun," sitting in the front seat, and that comes from that. you 4 to check guns the way you check your coat at a cold restaurant in winter. by that, not a cold restaurant
in a winter in austin where it's 90 degrees today, but maybe in the east coast. >> where did you check your weapons? >> you checked them with the sheriff or the stables with your horses. in fact, as i was researching the book, there was a great photograph in the book of dodge city taken during the height of the wild west periods, 1870s to 1880, and it's a picture of dodge city looking like you'd expect it to look in the height of the wild west period, wide, dusty road, brick buildings, little horse tie in front of the saloon. the surprising thing is in the middle of the street is a billboard saying the carrying of firearms is strictly prohibited. you came to a wild west town, you were not allowed to be a gun slinger with your guns on each hip, a rifle in your hand and another gun in your pants. >> i get the sense it's like going into a restaurant now where you put your umbrella into
a rack when you go into town. horse thieves were hanged. did people steal each other's pistols, or was it like an umbrella? you just pick it up as you leave town? >> i'm sure there was plenty of thievery in the wild west with guns too, but, no, you got them, and you gave them to the law enforcement. in research -- i didn't put the picture in there, but there's a photograph from a bar in june know, alaska, that has a handgun checked by none other than wyattearp and left town in the middle of the night before the sheriff's office opened again, and they still have the gun to this day, the gun he checked and was not able to collect. >> why do you think our con cements of the wild west, the gun slipingers, are so wrong? what's the reason that we have this ron manic notion --
romantic notion of it? >> we think of gunfights night and day, guns blazing, the shoot out at the o. k. coreal, and that's many in movies now. it's wrong for the same reason these places had gun control. if you were a small town on the outskirts of civilization, you wanted to be a bigger town filled with more people attracting businessmen and up vesters and -- investors and families to come create stability in the town. small towns today still want those same things, and that's why there's gun control laws so business people felt safe and families moved there feels it was safe. ..
>> the nra today is known for being very rarely compromising 0.10 of gun-control but it was not always this way. founded after the civil war by two unions soldiers who were convinced for marksmanship is why the war lasted so long and wanted to improve marksmanship training. in the 1920's and 30's the nra drafted and endorsed gun-control laws requiring anyone who want to toots carry a concealed weapon to have a license only allow
goes to go to people with the proper reason for carrying their firearms. research found 1934 when the federal government congress passed the first major gun-control law the firearms act of 1934 restricting access to gangster weapons like machine guns and sawed off shotguns frederick was asked to testify does the second amendment have any relevance to the national firearms act? his answer from the perspective of today is remarkable. he said i have not given any study from that point* abuse of the head of the nra thought of the most far-reaching blog today was impacted by the second amendment. that change the late '70s when the nra went a radical transformation becoming more politically active
hard-line. >> my eight with 1968 with the assassination of jfk and then passing the most legislation did that play a part? what were the factors to the nra to pivot on the issue of gun control? >> you are right to talk about the gun-control act of 1968 which was then next to be passed but it required licensing for gun dealers and to ban the importation of cheap firearms but that law sparked a movement of those who are opposed to government control and the head of the nra to endorse
the gun control act with the mayor can riflemen axle rich devise a plan to say i want to retreat from political activity to move the headquarters out of washington move to colorado springs with hunting and recreational shooting but this angered a group of dissidents who thought denser not primarily about hunting but personal protection in the era of rising crime rates. this group of dissidents led a dramatic middle of the night to go into the annual membership meeting to orchestrate a well thought out carefully devised a plan to oust the entire the the ship to replace with the new dissident hard-liners. when they recommitted to activity dismayed the second
amendment the heart and soul of the nra. >> when was hurled 10 has 10 and vault? >> he became involved one of the great spokesmen for the nra as a famous picture of my cold dead hands. one of the things that i found was charlton heston was not the first to say from my cold dead hands what i found was among blacks the same attitude was prevalent you only take my a gun from my cold dead hands. blacks are always disarmed prior to that but for the first time southern blacks get their hands on guns. the army cannot afford to pay its soldiers so deducts from those back wages.
other african americans literally flooded with firearms that were produced but not the same necessity and the kkk formed after the civil war was due to gun-control to get them away from african americans then they could fight back. took to gathering in big groups and costumes in large numbers be cut as the african americans had done and they wanted to outnumber them and they refuse to give up their guns and fought valiantly also from my cold dead hands unfortunately for some they found the guns were taken from their cold dead hand. >> plus 4100 years into the
1960's two make a surprising connection between the black panthers and the rise of the modern gun rights movement. can you explain that? pmi talking of one of the most remarkable incidence of the history of been control which was the day may 1967 when a group of 30 black panthers goes to the california state capital with loaded rifles and shotguns and pistols to talk up -- walked up the main steps into the legislative chamber that is in session. they were not there to do violence but as a political protest who was that word disarmed -- designed to disarm the black panthers that are roaming around with their guns openly displayed
and that was supported not just by democrats but conservatives as well and the governor at the time strongly supports a lot to say he did not see any reason why anybody should carry guns on the streets he would become president of the united states, ronald reagan and he was the big endorser of good gun-control law that these that many people thought was not designed to control guns but urban blacks who were riding and committing a lot of crime especially in the urban area but these laws were to restrict access to black radicals and sparked a backlash among conservatives who were convinced the government was coming to get their guns next. >> going forward to the
debates over gun-control and gun rights we have seen in the last five or 10 years why do you think the advocates of the second amendment rights have become so dominant? weir is just about a zeroth chance of passing of any state legislature or in congress anything to smack of gun-control today. what has changed politically over the past decade to put us in this situation in? >> a major push for gun control in the '60s especially was a reflection of vague great society philosophy that there are social problems the government can sell those with new legislation in over the course of the 1970's and 80's, more people lost faith with that idea.
people think the nra and gun lobby is powerful because they have money but they have money because they have a lot of members the people who believe very strongly in their political agenda of. the reason it is so strong is because millions of voters go out to vote on election day this being the only issue if you can leverage that type of constituency will be incredibly successful so much so that the current administration in washington but to receive the f. rating from the bradys center because they only listen and the gun-control laws so it is an issue that they do want to touch it to see it as a political loser.
>> to take us from the american revolution, what do you think is wrong with the debate we have today over gun rates how would you improve of the public discourse on guns? >> one of the problems it has been dominated by extremists on both sides of the aisle to say again rise separate -- supporters being extreme in their opposition and unwilling to support gun laws because they think it will lead to mou down a slippery slope but the other side has been unreasonable as well have often sought to take all the guns away to do a washington d.c. did to make them not useful and after that was obvious with
the unrealistic agenda to support an effective and silly losses that could not hope to reduce gun cryer. i argue i am hopeful that the heller case might be an opening to a new future of the gun debate where where people's right is protected by the supreme court that the same time to have effective gun control laws that don't go too far. i am hopeful maybe the heller case could be opening to break the political stalemate. >> we want to hear from the audience. please go to the microphone over here. >> as a tactical question
justice kagan and sotomayor that given the opportunity they would overturn it and is it still in flux as of constitutional law is but something that would be in during or go buy the wayside? >> it is hard, to say what would happen in the short-term i don't think it would be happen you never know which judicial appointments heller was the five/four decision a subsequent in 2010 saying the second amendment applied equally too legal -- local and state governments that was also five/four suni type of judicial appointment may change that. i don't think the democrats have a lot to gain by
pushing for nominees cetera hostile to bear arms i think supporters are very unlikely to support nominees that could change the vote from five/four and i am hopeful in the long run this is the kind of decision that is seen that helps american politics move forward and accepted by both sides of the issue. >> earlier today there is a panel on an arco drug wars and talking about the weapons being used originate here in the united states. are there ways we can control but without infringing on second amendment rights? >> that is acceptable to
both parties. >> right now there is probably not a lot of gun-control laws to be enacted that have any major effect on the mexican and drug cartel and administration in trying to adopt reporting requirements but that effort has been sidetracked because of the emerging scandal that has come about "fast & furious" about botched begun sting to allow us to go to the mexican cartel under the watch of the 80th but then they lost track of the gun. i think it is a growing scandal and will be much bigger in the next six months than the past six months and there isn't much that could be done in that realm but we have been trying to close the border and we may need to spend some time to limit the
ability to export guns to mexico. >> how easy is it to buy guns in washington d.c. can you look at our restrictions to place in britain was a series of looting? >> in the district of columbia it is difficult to buy firearms after the heller case was decided did not exactly throw up its arms to say we have liberal gun laws but a series of burdensome regulation currently lending their way through the supreme court to see what happens with those provisions it is difficult to get awfully on a fire arm 10 years later it was known as the murder capital of the united states.
even banning guns did not stop guns from finding their way into the wrong hands in washington d.c.. seeker probably get a gun easily if you buy them illegally but it they have had restrictive licensing and registration requirements since the 1920's and as a result they have very few firearms in great britain. clear is plenty of underground fire arms as well but difficult to own a firearm. the difference is they got their hand on a gun problem in the 1920's and only a couple hundred thousand tons. there is 280 million tons in america almost one per person more than one for every adult. the deal we could get rid of all the guns is a foolish idea ignoring the lessons and history we have had from
prohibition which was a terrible disaster trying to outlaw the drugs i am not sure how you feel the i think it is a terrible disaster leading to criminalization of activity that people will continue to engage and the creation of a huge underground black market. of we should not try to get rid of all the guns it would be a huge mistake the way alcohol and drugs would be her. >> i have two questions. could you talk about the disconnect with the surveys that show rank-and-file is less stringent than the leadership and second, it seems the activity in this area is the big city mayors like mayor bloomberg and former mayor daley in chicago can you talk about that a little bit?
>> the disconnect between the nra and its members is longstanding and recognized a few cold cone -- gun owners you will find much higher support for improving background checks closing the terrorist loophole and hear about the gun show loophole that is not an accurate term but they have to operate under the same rules and it turns out if you're not a federally licensed dealer you don't have to conduct a background check. you can also go buy them to classified ads were meat somebody added 10 range but there is a lot of nra members that would support closing the loophole to require a background check a
good difference is they do support gun-control but the leadership does not see a lot to gain by supporting it and when members of the glen -- gun lobby have supported gun-control measures may find themselves losing business by the most die-hard activists i am hopeful if the right to bear arms by the supreme court is projected in the basic rate is not challenged they are more convinced the rights are secure then the nra leadership will become less worried about the slippery slope toward total disarmament. your second question? big-city mayors. began problem in america it is predominantly a suicide
problem. all little over half are suicide and of the homicide half of those are gaining or criminal. the gun problem is primarily the gang problem. they use gained -- guns too often that is the of violence that affects urban cities much more often and by a they want gun-control to make their streets safer. >> mark twain famously said often that hit day 50 paces from us a barn and.gov the musket to bag his grandmother every time one is the rate of the accidental shootings? much more likely to injure a friend or family member than someone breaking into the home? >> for all of the prominence
the accidental shootings get it turns out to be a small fraction of gun deaths every year. this does happen. we read stories a child who finds a gun that his parents left on the nightstand and shoots of french. accidental shootings to happen but given this small number of incidents this is of a predawn an area or private -- primary concern where it may be worth our attention. for more people die every year in this approvals i hope there something more than playing with their guns but gun accidents are over emphasized in terms of their importance and the issue is the recidivist criminals.
>> and to ask a question of the heller case you have written the aftermath has not been exactly what the nra and then rights supporters had expected can you explain why that is? >> the supreme court in the heller case defies both extremes although gun rights advocates were extolling the decision and gun-control supporters -- supporters were be running the decision it has not spoke the end of gun-control in america and the opinion goes out of the way while at the bears are right for firearm with self-defense there is room for good public safety laws that regulate without banning the funds. since heller was decided a little more than 300 federal court decisions on the constitutionality of gun-control laws and the
courts have of hold almost all of the laws. the courts will strike down the outliers like washington d.c. to bar the use of any firearm and will continue to strike down the aisle liars was long as they support ineffective was you will have these chicago have the handgun ban after the heller case yet to do one hour of training and another provision out was the operation of any gun range in the sixth -- city of chicago. come on. are you serious? that law was struck down as it should have been. it is silly and ineffective
designed to deny people the right to have a firearm. we will see those struck down but we will not see the court striking down background checks or access to machine guns or the supreme court twos say domestic abusers can have access. that is not likely to happen. >> thank you, adam winkler one of the most detailed and balanced discussions of done so i have heard in recent years. thank you for coming. >> adam winkler will be at the book signing tend up the street i strongly encourage you to buy a "gunfight" if not please buy other books
to benefit libraries in texas. [inaudible conversations] >> that wraps up the coverage of the 16th annual texas book festival here in austin, texas. everything we have shown today will be repaired at 2:00 a.m. eastern time. if you have missed anything you could also go to booktv.org to search our archives to find and watch anything. thank you for being with us. booktv continues now on c-span2. >> and want juice start talking about why i wrote the book and what i hope to accomplish with this book.
i wrote the book because our party is at a crossroads and there is a division in going forward i believe we have to unite and i extend on one of my fox interviews the interview -- invitation for karl rove and i to kiss and make up going for as a united party but i do talk about the cronyism especially the republican party in delaware which those leaders have been ousted. but the reason i bring that up is not to perpetuate or fanned the flames but to put it to rest to say if that crony crowd would embrace the principles that the grass-roots crowd that our party was founded on and the country was founded nine, we will be a powerhouse if we can you night.
i detail the things like campaign has endured and what i went through as a candidate. to illustrate a point* of what happens when we divide instead of you night. is no secret the 2010 election this of the republican party was divided but there are some examples to look at. i draw the contrast between kentucky and my race where we had the senator mitch mcconnell to campaign against rand paul. the first thing to happen to politics until he won the primary purpose of the day later mitch mcconnell and rand paul arm in arm to say that is the past we have to move forward to make sure he crosses the finish line.